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. Translations for any words in the Drow language can be found in the footnotes.
Hunt, Play, Love
Chapter 1: The Kitten
Five-year-old Violet Do'Urden was constantly bringing home little animals from the woods and trying to make pets of them, so when Cattie-brie caught sight of her daughter coming up the trail with a squirming bundle wrapped in her cloak, she sighed. "Here we go again."
Violet burst into the house, a pink splotch coloring each dusky cheek, sapphire eyes sparkling, and breath coming in short pants. "Mum," she said between breaths, clutching her precious bundle, "Look!"
Cattie-brie peered at the squirming mass of gray fur wrapped in Violet's deep blue cloak. "Sweetie," she said, "baby animals need to be with their mothers, remember? Or else they might die. We talked about this before. Go put it back wherever you found it."
Violet pouted and thrust the bundle toward her mother. "But Mum," she said, "It's a kitten! I've always wanted a kitten. Can't I keep it this one time? You always make me take my pets back. Please, Mum, just a kitten? Please?" Her deep blue eyes glistened with tears.
Cattie-brie sighed and rubbed small circles on her daughter's back. She leaned down and drew back a fold of the blue cloak with one finger. A tiny gray kitten huddled there, its fur soft and fluffy like wispy cotton. The kitten's eyes were open, and they looked like molten gold. It opened its mouth in a piteous mew and feebly sniffed Violet's palm. "Oh honey," Cattie-brie said. Against her better judgment, she stroked the kitten gently with one finger. "This kitty needs to be with her mama. She's too little to be your pet. She needs milk."
Violet's lower lip trembled. "But there was no mama cat! There were no other cats at all." She drew the kitten closer, cuddling it against her chest.
Cattie-brie's brow knit. "How did you find it?"
Violet stroked the kitten and sniffled hard. "I heard this squeaky sound when we were playing hide n' seek. I started lookin' around, and Zak said he found me. But I told him it didn't count 'cause I heard something, and then he heard it too. We found the kitten all by itself in some dry grass under a tangly bush."
As if to illustrate the point, the kitten gave a tiny, high-pitched mew.
Violet looked down at it. "Aww, it's all right," she crooned, stroking it with one finger.
Cattie-brie put her arm around Violet and squeezed her shoulders. "Don't get too attached, sweetie. The mother cat must be nearby."
Violet met her eyes and shook her head wildly, long white hair flying. "It wasn't, Mum! Me an' Zak looked everywhere! We said, 'Here, kitty kitty,' an' everything! There were no other cats around anywhere!"
"All right. Calm down. You can keep it here until your father gets home, but after that it's going back to its mother. I'm sure he can track it down."
Violet's eyes lit up. "Yes!"
Cattie-brie chuckled. "Meanwhile, we'd better give it some milk."
The back door burst open, and Zaknafein stepped into the kitchen. The seven-year-old looked mud spattered and windblown. "There's no mama cat anywhere," he stated, coming up to pet the baby kitty. "I looked for, like, an hour!"
Cattie-brie huffed a laugh. "It ain't been an hour, but your father can help you look more later."
The poor kitten was meowing more and more frantically, still nuzzling Violet's fingers. Cattie-brie took it gently from her hand. "Put yer cloak on again, and you and Zak run and see if Widow Mae's got any goat's milk to spare."
"Yes!" Violet exclaimed. "You're the best, Mama!"
Cattie-brie snorted, but she couldn't help smiling.
When Drizzt returned home later that evening, he found seven-year-old Zaknafein industriously hammering together a little box for the kitten's bed, and Violet sitting with the feline in question on her lap. She had a bowl of goat's milk beside her and a milky rag in hand. The kitten was sucking milk from the rag contentedly. "Well, well." He knelt down to see the little bundle of fur. "And who is this?"
Violet looked up with a sweet smile. "We haven't picked a name yet. I like Princess, but Zak wants her to be named Smokey."
Cattie-brie stood with her arms crossed. She shook her head slightly, but she was smiling. "Would be better not to name the wee scrap. It needs to go back to its mother as soon as possible."
"But we can't find the mother cat," Zak piped up. He carried the newly finished cat bed to the hearth. "All done. I made sure no nails were sticking out."
Drizzt chuckled. "Best line it with something soft."
Cattie-brie pursed her lips. "This is a temporary arrangement," she reminded. "But I'll find some soft rags. For now."
"I still think we should name her," Violet insisted. "Mum says it's a … a …" She squinted at her father. "A girl. You know—a she-male!"
Drizzt laughed. "A female."
Violet pouted. "Are you laughin' at me?"
He tousled her hair. "Oh, Vi. It was cute. And you were pretty close to the right word."
She smiled. "Well, I think we should name her Princess, even if she's not staying here long."
"Smokey!" Zaknafein practically shouted. "Smokey's the perfect name because she's all gray."
Violet shook her head. "Princess sounds prettier."
Violet glared at her brother and took a deep breath, fists clenched.
"Easy now," Drizzt interjected, fixing them both with a stern look. "You can like different things, and that's just fine."
Violet frowned. "Mum says she likes both names. Which one do you think is better, Kel'nar?"
Zak and Vi both looked at him expectantly. Drizzt and Cattie-brie exchanged a look over top of their heads. "Well," Drizzt said after a careful moment, "Perhaps the kitten can decide." He extended an index finger to the kitten, who immediately began sucking on it.
Zak frowned. "How can the kitten decide?"
Drizzt shrugged. "Try saying both names, and see if you get a reaction."
Violet pouted. "That's not even possible, Kel'nar."
Drizzt chuckled. "Maybe not. But if nothing else, you can call her Princess Smokey."
"No!" Both children said emphatically.
Drizzt laughed, but Cattie-brie rolled her eyes. "She's goin' back to the bushes where ya found her soon enough anyway."
Drizzt extricated his finger from the kitten's tiny mouth and got to his feet. "We'll go look for the mother cat, ussta che. Don't worry."
Cattie-brie sighed. "I'm not worried. I've just heard enough squabbling t'day."
Drizzt put an arm around her and fixed his children with a look. "Our children, squabbling?" He sounded like he couldn't fathom the possibility.
Cattie-brie smirked at his twinkling eyes.
Zak frowned. "It's Violet's fault."
Drizzt crossed his arms. "Well, no more of that, or I'll find something better for you to do."
Zak and Violet exchanged a look.
"Let's name the kitten!" Violet said brightly, clearly ready to change the subject. She set the gray cat in the cozy bed Zak had made for it. "Princess, Princess, Princess!"
The kitten took a few feeble steps on the soft rags and sniffed.
Zaknafein crouched down by the cat box and leaned in close. "Smokey," he suggested, stroking the kitten with one finger. "Hello, Smokey."
Unexpectedly, the kitten looked up and mewed.
"Do you like that? Smokey?"
The kitten mewed again.
"Looks like Smokey it is," Drizzt said with a sidelong glance at Violet.
The five-year-old shrugged and raised her chin. "Smokey's all right, I guess. Since she likes it."
Drizzt smiled. "Then it's agreed."
Drizzt and Zak went out to look for the mother cat after supper, but to no avail.
"It's the strangest thing," Drizzt said, sitting opposite Cattie-brie on one end of the stone hearth.
Cattie was feeding the kitten milk with a rag for the fourth time since the children had been put to bed. She sighed. "Looks like we've got a pet, then."
Drizzt nodded. "I don't know how such a little kitten got out here. I can only think that maybe coyotes or wolves got the mother and the rest of the litter, but somehow missed this little one."
Cattie-brie stifled a yawn and nodded too. "Well, it wants milk all the time," she said. "Like, every hour. Poor thing's not gonna make it through the night unless we take turns feeding it."
Drizzt nodded solemnly. He took the kitten and the milk from her. "Let me do that, and you go sleep for a while."
"Thanks," Cattie-brie murmured, yawning again. It was already midnight. She kissed Drizzt on the cheek, then headed toward their bedroom. She paused at the door. "The little thing's growing on me, she admitted. "Violet will be thrilled."
Sometime in the middle of the night, Cattie-brie felt Drizzt shaking her awake as he crawled into bed beside her. "Kitten," he said.
"Hmm?" Cattie-brie cracked one eyelid open.
"The kitten, love. Smokey."
"Mmph," Cattie groaned, but got out of bed anyway and stumbled toward the door to take her turn giving the kitten milk.
Drizzt was deep in reverie before she'd even left their room.
When a pale strip of dawn was touching the horizon, Cattie-brie woke Drizzt, who normally got up at sunrise anyway, and crawled back into bed. She hoped she had an hour or two before the children got up.
An hour and a half later, it was still hard to drag herself out of bed. "Don't know how I did this when the children were babies."
Cattie stumbled into the kitchen, eyes watering as they adjusted to the daylight. There was a strange smell coming from a pot on the back of the woodstove. It smelled sort of earthy and mellow, and it made her hungry. What on Toril had Drizzt made? She peered into the steaming pot. Whatever the broth was, it was black as the Underdark and thin as water. She tipped the pot to the side. Perhaps not totally black, but at least dark brown where the light hit it. Cattie-brie dipped a tentative finger into the brew and tasted a drop. She wrinkled her nose. Bitter. Then her eyes lit on a note on a scrap of birch bark on the counter. "Energy potion," it read in Drizzt's spidery scrawl. "Better with sugar." She chuckled and took a cup from the board. Well, then.
Even with sugar, the energy potion was hard to swallow, but it smelled so good, and the warmth was comforting. Regis had brought them the strange Moonshae energy beans from his travels, but they'd put them in the back of the cupboard until now. Apparently Drizzt had decided that half a night's reverie was reason enough to try some of the concoction. Cattie-brie took another sip, getting a bit of pulverized energy bean in her mouth. She picked it out. The mortar and pestle stood on the counter, coated with a dark brown dust, but obviously some large chunks remained. She took another sip, shuddering a bit as she swallowed it, but starting to feel more awake. The potion would be better with cream.
At least during the day, Zaknafein and Violet eagerly took turns giving the little kitten milk. They were trying to teach it to drink from a saucer, but so far it hadn't caught on.
By evening, Drizzt and Cattie-brie were dragging their feet, Moonshae energy potion notwithstanding. It must have worn off. Cattie-brie wasn't sure about Drizzt, but she was dreading another interrupted night like the last one.
At bedtime, when the children begged to stay up late to take care of the kitten for a while, Drizzt took one look at the dark circles under Cattie-brie's eyes and said yes. Obviously he wasn't feeling much more energetic himself. They gratefully went to bed, leaving the children with Smokey.
Drizzt had intended to wake up sometime in the middle of the night and take over, but when he next awoke, the sky was already starting to get lighter. He hurried into the kitchen, expecting to find the children asleep in front of the fireplace and the poor kitten dead. His eyebrows rose. Zaknafein and Violet were both awake, and the kitten, of all things, was lapping goat's milk straight from a tin saucer.
"She just started doing it a minute ago, Kel'nar!" Violet exclaimed in a hushed whisper. She grinned at the clever kitten.
Drizzt petted the kitten with one finger and smiled.
"We've been trying to teach her for-ev-er," Zak said, yawning hugely.
"Good," Drizzt said. "Now we won't have to stay up with her all night anymore. Did you sleep at all?"
Violet shook her head. "I was awake the whole time!" she proclaimed.
Zaknafein frowned at her. "You were not! You fell asleep sitting up, and were breathing as loud as Grandpa Bruenor when he falls asleep in his chair by the fire."
Violet scowled at her brother. "Well, you were asleep on the floor while I did all the work."
"Until you poked me and kicked me in the ribs!"
"I did not kick, I just nudged you with my toes!"
Drizzt set a firm hand on each child's shoulder. "That's enough," he interjected. "To bed, with both of you."
Violet turned her scowl on him. "But it's almost sunrise already, Kel'nar."
Drizzt just stared at his daughter for a moment. Really? After being up all night, she'd still resist bedtime? He shook his head. "Bed. Now."
Despite staying up nearly all night with the kitten, Zak and Violet still only slept until mid-morning. They seemed as energetic as ever during the day, but were twice as cranky as usual. Finally after lunch, Cattie-brie made them both go take a nap—something she hadn't done for years.
"I'm not tired!" Zaknafein complained.
"Me either," Violet joined in.
"You don't have to sleep," Cattie-brie conceded. "I jist want ya to lie down in your beds fer a while."
Not ten minutes after she'd sent them to bed, both children were sound asleep. Cattie-brie sighed. Some time to herself at last. She grabbed her bow and headed outside for some target practice.
Practice wasn't really the word for it. More like play. She enjoyed the cool breeze on her face as she walked into the clearing. She could hit the tiny acorns on the edge of the forest from here. She loosed three arrows in quick succession, doing just that.
Drizzt entered the clearing from the trail that led off to the stream, admiring his wife's form as she shot. And as she nocked another arrow. And as she just stood there, running a hand through her wild auburn hair. "I could watch you forever," he said, coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her curves.
Cattie-brie fired off one last arrow and giggled as he kissed her on the back of the neck. "You made me miss!"
"Sorry," he breathed, still kissing her neck lightly.
She laughed breathily. "You don't sound very sorry." Smiling, she turned to face him and put her bow over her shoulder. She wrapped her arms around him. "Mmm, you smell good."
Drizzt grinned. "I should. I just came back from the stream." He sent a sudden glance toward the house. "Are the children asleep?"
"Yep." Cattie-brie slid her hands down his arms. "I'd say we've got at least an hour." She fit her body more snugly against him and tipped her head up to kiss him again, pulling his mouth down to hers with one hand laced through the thick mane of hair at the back of his head, freshly washed with little white tendrils curling away from the rest.
When at last they needed breath, Drizzt held her close and whispered in her ear. "I know a place where the grass is really soft …"
"We could lie on top of my fur-lined cloak. Just let me fetch it." He let go of her and started toward the house.
"I'll be waiting," she called after him musically. After a moment, she pulled the bow and quiver off her back and followed him. "Drizzt."
He turned, one eyebrow raised.
"I ought to put these away, but I don't want 'em to wake up." She held out the bow. "You're silent as a ghost."
He chuckled and took her weapons. "I hope I am, because if they wake up, we'll have to wait until—"
Cattie-brie jumped, and Drizzt stiffened. They turned. A dwarf hailed them from the road.
"Bruenor." Drizzt tried to keep the disappointment out of his voice.
The crusty old dwarf grinned and hastened over.
"Da." Cattie-brie pulled him into a hug.
Bruenor returned the embrace, but coughed once, as if embarrassed at the sentiment. He clapped his adoptive daughter on the back, then turned to Drizzt. "Elf," he said gruffly, "I come to fetch ya on a hunt."
A/N: This chapter was rewritten in December 2020. The remaining chapters will be rewritten soon. Hope you're enjoying the story so far. Reviews are always appreciated.
Kel'nar = Dad
ussta che = my love