Hmm. sat listening to The Plastic Bag Theme from American Beauty when this came up. YES, I know it is a bit Highlander rip-off. Sue me. But it's still about someone else.

Disclaimer: The recognizable characters appearing in this story are © R.A. Salvatore and TSR: Forgotten Realms, all rights reserved. They are used without permission and for entertainment purposes only. No profit is being made by the author for writing this story. No infringement upon nor challenge to the rights of the copyright holders is intended; nor should any be inferred.

Sleep In Peace, princess.

The sun is setting. It is red and full and casts a strange glance over the melting snow. Somehow appropriate, I think, as I clutch her tighter and checks for the n'th time that the bearskin is wrapped adequately around her. Otherwise she'll just catch a cold, I remind myself, out of pure habit. But then, who am I fooling? She won't catch a cold, not this time. We are sitting in the entrance of that cave - the plae where I first made my home. The cave where I once met a small girl with a winning smile and blue sparkling eyes. I carried her uphere this morning, she requested it so stubbornly that I could not refuse. She has become so thin. Weighed no more than a child. She was always a stubborn little girl, I muse, and then have to choke a bit from the absurdity of that statement. She is no longer a girl. She hasn't been for many many years now, though when I look at her waves of hair now as white as my own, and her worked-out tired little frame, somehow my eyes don't see it. The suns red glance, sparkling as a weak shadow of the past in her hair, somehow turns it into auburn when I look at it. And her eyes. Oh, they never changed. Never. And as they open and look up from where her head rests, on my chest - my body behind hers being the only reason she is in some kind of sitting posture - I am almost - almost - able to forget the inevitable, almost ready to deny what I know is going to happen. What I always knew would happen, one day. I remark my observations to her, as I drink in the sight of those eyes, greedily, as a seafaring man not knowing when he will taste wine again. "You are so beautiful. You know that?" She laughs at me, a mocking, loving little laugh. And rattling. Her voice has become hoarse, but to me it is music. Reality is a strange thing. The way it is percepted. The way it is seen and heard an sensed. "Father were right. You are a stupid stubborn elf who only sees what he wants to see." I cannot deny it. But in this case, things are different, and I know she knows it. Her breath is shallow. It has been for quite a few hours now, and I hang onto every single one of them. I know I have covered her neatly up in her bearskin, but it is in vain. The warmth is leaving her body now. And then she close her eyes, and the expression on her face is suddenly painful. "Don't look at me, husband. Let me die in peace." And I sense her body going even more fragile, and I hold on to her, for the first time realizing that I cannot fight this off. Not this thing. It is beyond me. It is beyond me and I feel a short burst of anger, deriving from my own helplessness. A short burst that turns into a pain in my chest, a little, tiny and excruciating pain that makes my heart flutter like a bird waiting in a cage to be killed. Fear. She opens her eyes again and together we stare one final time across the planes of the Dale, and beyond it is the mountains, tall and snowcovered and lonely. Loneliness! The bird flutters more intensely. Her breaths are rasping now. How can she be so calm? She stares out into the sky but somehow she doesn't seem to be seeing it. As if her spirit is already slipping. But silently, whispering, the words come, her words of how she loves me, always have and always will, and how sad she is that she never gave me any children. And for the first time in my life I weep without hiding it. Without shame. They would have been beautiful, strong children. A long pause. Then : "Where are we, Drizzt? Tell me where we are. I hug her closer, resting my cheek against her hair, taking in its scent. The scent of her. "We're in the Dale. Where else? We're running down the hillside at springtime, Guen winning again of course. But you're so fast, though no more than twelve. It's not cold. You're wearing that itchy woolen overcoat that Strumpet always made you wear." And I have to pause, waiting for the sobs in my chest to settle. As if this last, everyday detail is just unbearable. ".and the boots Bruenor made for you." I look down to her again. Her eyes are closed now, and the smile on her face resembles that of a child asleep. Like herself, so many years ago, when she slept, and long gone Bruenor would sit and hold her hand all night, afraid to wake her if he got up. And I would keep him company. The pain is unreal.

*** I have made a stonesetting for her inside. I've been sitting all night, watching the darkness come, and the stars twinkle in the sky, unable to move, unable to let go of the body in my arms, getting colder and colder with every hour. But then morning came, and while the sun rose, I have been dragging the stones to her final bed, while my head is strangely empty and the bird in my heart quiet. It still is. It doesn't flutter anymore. Pictures swirl in my chest instead, they are like little imps having opened my chest, putting sugar on my heart and sucking at it like on a lollipop. And the whole time she lies there, under the bearskin, as if sleeping. And it happens quite a few times during the night that the bonfire I have lit to keep myself warm, fools me with its flickering. And I think I can see - just out of the corner of my eye - that she is moving. But she never moves. I have cut a Mielikki figurine out of a piece of knucklehead trout. It is crude and the whole time I think how much better it would have been if Regis had been here to do it. But he isn't. His old bones hurts and he have his home in Waterdeep now, with Colson and her husband.

The sun is setting once again before I'm finished. The wind is whispering, howling amidst the mountaintops as I take in the wiew from the cave opening one final time, having my belongings packed and waiting for me beside me, rested against the wall. Uphere though, just around this place, the wind seems silent and calm. I stare out at the melting fields, the snow turning into water and drip- drip-dripping everywhere. The planes are waiting me again, and beyond them, an old halfling, and then, maybe, the sea. Yes maybe. And then, pushed by some force of nature, I start plodding down the narrow rocky path down the slope of the mountain, leaving behind the stonesetting, and atop of it the symbol of Mielikki, guarding it patiently. Patient as she always were. And I know I will never see the wiew of Bruenors Climb again.

Marie, 08.09.02