A/N: Please find translations for the drow language as a footnote. All reviews welcome.
Disclaimer:The recognizable characters appearing in this story are © Wizards of the Coast, Inc., 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.
Because I Love You
Violet stared out the window glumly. It was still raining. It had been raining for three days straight and it was too chilly to play outside. To make matters worse, Violet had a new ball that father had brought her, and she and Zak couldn't even go outside and play catch with it. Violet went back to playing with the ball in front of the study fireplace, just rolling it back and forth. Zak was content to read and he'd been laying in his bunk for what seemed like hours already, attention glued to a book.
On the first day of rain Violet had been tossing the ball up and catching it, here in the study. Mum had come in and told her not too – she might break something. Violet had stopped for awhile, but she was so bored! Normally she played outside practically from dawn till dusk. She hated being cooped up in the house! Not being able to toss her new ball around made it worse. But what was the harm, anyway? Of course she wouldn't break anything. Deciding mum was worried for nothing, Violet had resumed her game. She'd been so caught up in it she hadn't heard mum returning to stoke up the fire. Violet didn't get any dessert that night.
The next day the six-year-old drew pictures with her brother and even read a little bit, glancing out the window with every page she turned, willing the sun to come out again. But the sun hid its face and the sky wept and could not be consoled. Violet soon grew bored of the book – why read about other people doing things when she could be doing them? She couldn't sit still any longer, she decided. Her ball lay just a few feet away where she'd left it – before the study's fireplace. And somehow her hands ached to be throwing and catching that ball. Just a few times wouldn't hurt. Mum was occupied with making biscuits in the kitchen anyway.
Violet had set a new record – forty-two catches – when mum had walked in with a hot, fresh biscuit for her. The ball had been in mid-air, and no excuse could be made. Mum had taken her by the hand and led her to the kitchen. "Bucket! Water! Soap! Brush!" mum said shortly, pointing out the objects in question. And then, pointing a finger at the floorboards, "Now scrub!" The half-elf child had still been scrubbing that floor a quarter-hour later when father came in, along with a torrent of rain, in time for supper. And after the evening meal that night, again there'd been no dessert for Violet while everyone else was enjoying hot pudding. Vi could only listen to the rain lashing angrily against the windows and the wind howling mournfully like a lone wolf separated from its pack.
On this, the third day of rain, Zak and Vi had played marbles, drew pictures again, and made cookies with mum. Dad was out hunting orcs, even in this rain. Yesterday he'd gotten six, and the day before that seven! But now Zaknafein was engrossed in his book again. Mum had lain down for a nap in her and dad's bedroom. Violet had climbed up to her bunk and tried reading too, but she just couldn't get into it. For some reason all she could think of was playing with her new ball. She could just roll it back and forth between her hands on the floor.
So, here she was again. The study was the coziest room in the house and Violet liked to sit in front of the fireplace here, especially on chilly days like today. Violet pick up the new ball – smooth, unmarred, and a perfect fit for her small hands. She rolled it back and forth along the floorboards for awhile, then went to the window, hoping to see some sign of the rain lessening. It wasn't. After awhile of rolling the ball again she sat up and began tossing it from hand to hand. She felt a twinge of conscience – after all, mum had said "Don't toss the ball in here" – but this was a different way than she'd been doing it before, so it didn't really count, right? Violet managed to convince herself, silencing the little voice of protest in her head. She stood, stretched, and resumed her game, tossing the ball between her hands faster and faster. This was a lot more fun than just throwing it up and catching it! She increased her speed even more. If she hadn't have been so engrossed in her game she would've heard the outside door open and close – would've heard the familiar (although nearly silent) footsteps of her father in the kitchen, and the scrape of a chair as he sat down to unlace his boots. Had he reason to, he could walk with complete silence, but she didn't hear him anyway. Her mind was totally on the game, and the ball was a blur between her hands. And then it slipped.
There was a row of glass bottles of different colors lined up on the mantle, and the ball, flying wild, struck one of these with enough force to shatter it. A second bottle wobbled beside the first, then toppled. Violet leaped and somehow managed to catch it before it hit the floor. She listened carefully, hardly daring to breathe. The blood pounded in her ears as she cradled the cool glass bottle in hot hands. Had mum woken up? Had Zak heard? If he had, would he come to investigate? The house was silent. She waited for many moments – still silent. Violet let out her breath in a whoosh and set the blue glass bottle down carefully. Maybe if she quickly cleaned up the broken glass and re-spaced the other bottles mum wouldn't notice one missing. Violet turned, and there was father, standing in the doorway regarding her, arms crossed. Her dusky complexion not withstanding, Violet paled visibly. She was in trouble and she knew it.
"Well Violet, no dessert, washing the floor, and still...?" Drizzt gestured expansively, indicating the ball and the broken glass.
Violet swallowed. "I didn't mean to break it."
The ranger nodded once, expression stern. "But you did mean to toss your ball in here after mum specifically told you not to."
"Three times, I might add."
"Well..." Violet had nothing to say to that, really. "I'm sorry about the bottle," she ventured.
Drizzt waved a hand dismissively. "The bottle is nothing. Willful disobedience is. Now bring me your ball."
She brought it, reluctantly.
Drizzt slipped the ball into his pocket. Then he went over to the hearth and fished around until he came up with a thin piece of kindling. He flexed it in his hands, finding it acceptable, but he paused, conflicted inside. Was this really necessary? After a moment he decided it was. He cleared his throat. "Now...I guess we'd better go outside." No sense waking Cattie-brie or embarrassing the child in her brother's hearing.
Violet's stomach was in a knot, but she knew why he suggested it. Her sapphire eyes narrowed. "It won't be necessary."
Drizzt tapped the flexible piece of wood against his palm meaningfully. "It might."
"It won't." She tried to keep her tone as even as her father's.
"Very well. Your left hand."
Violet bit her lip. She held her hand out as instructed, willing it to stay steady.
Drizzt grasped his daughter's fingertips firmly, although inwardly he hesitated again. He came back to his original decision – it had to be done. He raised the kindling and struck her palm hard with it – once...twice...three times. Violet had her eyes closed and she made no sound, but there were tears running down her cheeks when he was finished. Drizzt released her hand and laid the wood aside. He stepped back and sank down into a chair. Violet turned to face the window, quiet, her tears blurring her vision as the rain blurred the glass.
After a few moments Drizzt came up behind her and took the hurt hand gently in his own. He knelt to eye level and turned Violet's face gently so that their eyes met. "Violet. I punished you because I love you. I love you too much to just ignore it when you do something that is bad for you or for others." His tone was soft.
Violet dragged a sleeve across her face and sniffled. "That's what you and mum always say whenever you punish us."
Drizzt smiled slightly. "Well, that's because it's true. I love you and Zaknafein very much, and I want you to grow up to be good people...kampi'un?"
Violet nodded, a bit grudgingly.
Drizzt held out his arms and, after a moment's hesitation, Violet accepted the hug. She leaned her head against his chest and breathed in the comforting, outdoorsy smell of him. Drizzt rubbed her back gently.
"I try to be good, but it's hard when I'm cooped up inside all day."
Drizzt smiled – that he could understand. Violet definitely seemed to have inherited his love of the outdoors. "I know Vi, but you still need to obey mum and I, you understand?"
"Yes...I'm sorry father."
Drizzt hugged her close again. "You're forgiven. And you may have your ball back tomorrow."
"Okay," she said resignedly.
Drizzt squeezed her shoulder and stood up. "Let's clean up this broken glass."
1 kampi'un? - understand?
2 Kel'nar - Dad