The recognizable characters appearing in this story are copyright by Wizards of the Coast, Inc. This story is written for entertainment purposes only; no challenge to the copyright holders is intended, neither should any be inferred.

To Sleep

The fire crackled low in the hearth, and Violet sank down on the warm stone ledge in front of it, the sinking feeling in her stomach unpleasant company, but not unexpected. Across from her, Kel'nar stared out of the kitchen window into the darkness. She could see the tension in his bare shoulders, the rigid firmness of his stance, both hands gripping the windowsill tight. At last, he turned to regard her, and his eyes seemed pained.

"We've been through this before."

Violet wished that her father's voice wasn't so quiet, so resigned. "I know. It's just that I . . . " She let the words trail off. She really had no answer that would be anywhere near persuasive, and she knew it.

Drizzt crossed his arms. "You were told to go to bed by midnight, and yet it is clear that you did not do so." He lifted a hand to indicate her attire—still the doeskin breeches and homespun tunic she had worn during the day, complete with pins in her hair and a necklace at her throat. The sapphire necklace that matched her eyes. Drizzt let the hand drop. "A wolf's howl calls me out of reverie, and here you are, up and about three hours later than you were meant to be."

Violet bit her lip. "I was reading late, and I lost track—" She looked away, biting off the lie before it made his pained look worse. She'd known exactly what time it was. She just hadn't wanted to go to bed. And how was it that he always seemed to know when she was lying? Violet shook her head slightly, then raised her chin and started over. "I was reading too late. It won't happen again."

Drizzt raised an eyebrow. "If the past is any indication of the future, it will. As I said, we've had this conversation before, and I grow weary of it." He flattened one palm against the countertop beside him. "Somehow my words alone are not getting through to you."

Violet's heart skipped a beat. His eyes had taken on a sterner gleam, and somehow he looked downright formidable, despite being clad in nothing but soft sleep pants. Perhaps his wild hair, loosed for the night, emphasized the look in his eyes. "From now on, I'll go to bed on time!"

Drizzt pressed his lips together. "You've said that to me before." His eyes flicked to the large clay jar of cooking utensils on the counter, coming to rest on the wooden spoon. He sighed.

Violet shivered, following his gaze. "But, don't people deserve second chances?"

He inclined his head slightly, still studying the spoon. "Certainly. And more. But there comes a point when—"

"Kel'nar, please!" she interrupted. Violet knew where this was leading—to a place it had not led in years, and if it actually came to that place again, she might just die of the shame of it. "I'm not a child!"

His eyebrows arched upward again, his gaze at last torn away from the spoon to meet her eyes. He studied her face for a moment. "Thirteen summers may no longer be childhood for a human girl, but for a half elf—" he shook his head. "Violet, I realize that you require far less sleep than a human child. I only expected you to be in bed by midnight, and yet—" he shook his head again "—you seem to think that I didn't mean to be taken seriously."

"No!" Violet drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them.

"Your actions indicate as much."

Violet shook her head and shivered suddenly.

Drizzt leaned back against the counter and regarded her for a moment. "I should be much less annoyed to wake up at this hour and, say, find the house surrounded by . . . rabid wolves—" he waved a hand fancifully "—than to wake up and find that you place so little value in following my instructions."

"Kel'nar . . . I'm sorry," she ventured.

"Yes," he agreed. "Sorry that you were caught."

"No!" She looked away, and her stark white hair half hid her face. "I mean, I'm sorry I disobeyed you." She never could meet his eyes when she lied. Perhaps that was how he knew . . .

Drizzt sighed. "I wish that were the case, Violet. Thirteen summers or not—I'm afraid to say that it will be."

Somewhere in the distance, the wolf howled again, and a shiver ran down Violet's spine—not so much at the haunting sound as at his words, and the decisive tone with which he delivered them. She glanced for a moment at his face, his jaw set, but his eyes pained. The determination she could match, but not those eyes. Not when they said that she had let him down. Violet hid her face against her knees. "Wh-what do you mean?" Asking the question was only a means of buying time. Surely Kel'nar was holding the spoon by now, turning it over slowly in his hand. She had brought this upon herself, but that didn't make it any easier to face. She counted the beats of her heart, but Kel'nar was silent. Probably waiting for her to look at him. Resigned, she lifted her head at last.

Kel'nar turned back from the window, where he had once again been surveying the darkened yard, probably for any glimpse of the wolf. He looked at her strangely, and something in his face changed. "Keeping such late hours has taken a toll, I see." His voice was softer, and he closed his eyes for a moment.

"What?" This time her question was genuine. "You mean you're not going to . . . " Violet let her voice trail off, her eyes straying to the wooden spoon, still in the jar where it belonged.

Drizzt answered the unspoken part of her question. "The thought did cross my mind, although I've not used such methods since you were eight."

Violet breathed a sighed of relief, and a smile touched his lips before he continued.

"Regardless, it seems natural consequences will teach a better lesson this time."

"Natural consequences?" Violet furrowed her brow.

Drizzt sighed. "Darkvision would seem to indicate that you have a fever." He took a step forward and placed a gentle hand on her forehead. He frowned. "Not serious, but I'd be surprised if sickness does not follow."

Now that he mentioned it, Violet realized that she was feeling rather warm, though she was shivering slightly. Moments ago, she'd simply attributed it to her chagrin at being caught staying up so late again. But maybe the scratchy feeling in her throat wasn't entirely due to the smoke from the fire in the hearth . . . Oh no. Violet hated being sick. She swallowed thickly and got to her feet. "I, um, I'm going to go to bed now."

Drizzt nodded almost imperceptibly. "Yes, you are."

Violet met his eyes and held them. As much as she wanted to exert her independence, she didn't want him to be disappointed in her. Her eyes strayed to the unicorn pendant that he never removed, and a word slipped into her mind. Honor. She nodded once, and looked up at him again. "I will honor you in this, Kel'nar."

His eyes widened slightly, but he simply nodded.

Somehow the air was cleared between them. Violet gave him an impulsive hug. "Goodnight, Kel'nar."

Drizzt held his strong-willed daughter for an extra moment. "Goodnight, D'anthe Uss."

Kel'nar = Dad

D'anthe Uss = Dear One

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