Hello, everyone! If this is the first story by me that you've read, you can ignore this next bit, and thank you for reading. My first RA story! If you've read other stories by me, then... I am very very very sorry. I swear, I tried to upload stuff, I really did, but there was no internet, and then when we went to library fanfiction was blocked so I couldn't post anything... And to those of you who have left reviews, I'm sorry I haven't responded. I can read them on my email, but I can't reply to them on FF. *Hangs head in shame* Anyhow, I'm still tweaking my Korra and Avatar stories that are almost-but-not-quite ready, so expect those in the next month or so. On to the story! This takes place when Will is nineteen. Just barely. Oh, and I own nothing.
Extra note: Someone pointed out to me that the whole birthday bit was in correct, and since I finally got to read The Lost Stories, I figured I'd come back and fix this.
The Ranger looked up from his cup of coffee to see his apprentice rubbing the back of his neck and shifting his weight from foot to foot awkwardly.
"I thought I told you to go practice your shooting," Halt said peevishly, removing his feet from the table and setting his coffee cup down. Clearly, Will thought, he didn't enjoy being interrupted. "Feel like chatting a bit before you do?"
"Well, no, I was going to go practice, but, um, I can't find my bow."
Halt raised his eyebrows.
"You can't find your bow?" he asked incredulously, his tone implying that Will had just said he couldn't find Castle Redmont. "Would this be the bow I made for you while in captivity? That bow?"
"Yeah," Will said dispiritedly. "I was wondering if you had seen it?" he added hopelessly, knowing he was going to receive a lecture.
"Will," Halt said sternly. "Your bow is an exstension of yourself. You can't lose it. And if I had seen it I wouldn't tell you. Serves you right for losing it. How would you handle it if a Tem'uj suddenly came riding down here, intent on killing us?"
"Let you shoot him?" Will suggested, and Halt shook his head, making a disgusted noise.
"Pathetic." He allowed his apprentice to feel guilty for a minute or two, then said crisply, "Right, then. Where did you last have it?"
"Well, that's the thing," Will said, clearly puzzled. "I could have sworn I brought it in here last night and hung it up in my room, but it's not there now." He eyed Halt for a moment, then said casually, "And you are the only other person here, so I thought you might have seen something."
"I'm not exactly in the habit of sneaking into your room and stealing your bow when I have a much better one," Halt said, eyes narrowing the slightest bit at Will's implications. "And I'd like to think you would have woken up if anyone had been in your room."
Will's shoulders slumped. "I just can't believe I lost it," he muttered. "I mean, where could I have possibly put it? My quiver's right where I left it!"
Halt shrugged. "You still need to practice your shooting," he pointed out.
"I can't very well do that without a bow!" Will said exasperatedly. "Or did you expect me to just chuck arrows at the targets?"
"I expect you," Halt said coolly, "to not interrupt me."
Will hung his head. "Sorry, Halt." He wasn't about to tell Halt, of course, but the bow meant a lot to him, only partially because it was a useful weapon. Halt had made in for him.
"Now," Halt said briskly, "who says you don't have a bow?"
Will looked at him askance. "Um, Halt? That's kind of why we're having this conversation. My bow is missing. I do not have a bow."
Halt shook his head. "Your bow is missing. That isn't to say you don't have a bow. Go check out back, would you?"
Will gave him another odd look before turning and walking out the door, hesitantly making his way around the cabin, all senses on alert. It was silent. Tug whinnied softly as he saw him, and Will nodded to the horse before continuing around the cabin.
Leaning against the back wall was a longbow. His gaze passed over it after a moment, as he assumed it was his mentor's. Why would Halt want him to...
Wait a minute.
Halt's longbow was inside, sitting on the table. And besides, he would never leave his bow so far away.
He took a few hesitant steps towards the weapon, picking it up gingerly. Tied to it with a piece of string was a scrap of paper with two words written on it:
He stared incredulously, his mind working furiously as a slow grin spread across his face. Well then.
"Halt?" he called, and his the grizzled Ranger appeared around the corner of the cabin, where he had clearly been waiting. Will gestured with the longbow.
"Yes?" the man asked, raising an eyebrow at him. Will grinned.
"Yours? Of course," Halt said brusquely. "You were getting too strong for that recurve bow of yours. I thought it was time you had a proper weapon."
Something was odd, though, and it took Will a moment to place it. "But... why today? My birthday isn't for almost two weeks. You know that."
"Actually," Halt said, "that's the day you arrived at Castle Redmont. Your actual birthday is today." Seeing Will's confusion, he sighed in exasperation. "It took me a few days to get you to Castle Redmont."
"Oh," Will said, blinking. "Well, thanks, Halt." Before he lost his nerve, he stepped forward and embraced his teacher. Halt stiffened, patted Will awkwardly on the back, then shoved him away.
"All right, you. Enough of that. I said I want you to pactice your shooting, and I do. That bow will take some getting used to. It's got a much stronger draw weight. Adjust your grip on it. Like this, not that, you thick-fingered oaf..."
They spent the rest of the day cheerfully lobbing insults at each other as Halt taught his boy-
He corrected himself. The boy. He taught the boy how to shoot.
A happy birthday, indeed.