Chapter 4: The Couple
Cattie-brie was stirring a pot of custard when Drizzt and Zaknafein entered. The log house was warm and filled with the aroma of fresh bread, grilled meat, and savory stew. Firelight spilled from the hearth and around the cracks in the woodstove.
Violet was sitting at the edge of the hearth petting Smokey. She didn't look up.
Zaknafein glanced at his sister quickly and then away, turning to hang his cloak on its peg.
Drizzt and Cattie-brie exchanged a look as he too swept his cloak off his shoulders.
Drizzt crossed over to the stove, wrapped one arm around her waist, and drew her close. "Supper looks delicious." He leaned nearer and spoke in her ear. "And so do you."
Cattie's blue eyes widened, and she gave a little laugh, like bells tinkling.
Drizzt's mouth quirked in a roguish smile. After a moment, the grin faded. He leaned close again, appearing to look over her shoulder at the custard. "They need an opportunity to make amends." He barely breathed the words in her ear.
"Zak and Vi, go and wash your hands, please," Cattie-brie instructed briskly. "You'll have to go out to the stream because the water in the pitcher here is … um … kind of dirty."
Violet looked up and heaved a sigh before slowly lowering Smokey into her soft cat bed. "Do I have to, Mum? I already washed when I came in."
Cattie-brie slid the custard pot to the back of the woodstove. "Yes. You were petting the cat."
"So? She's clean."
Cattie-brie snorted. "Without a mama cat to tend her? Hardly. Go."
Zaknafein went out wordlessly, and Violet soon followed.
Cattie-brie huffed a sigh when the screen door closed. She turned to look at Drizzt. "The water's fine. Didn't know what to say to get them alone together." Her mouth twisted. "Should've thought of something better."
"Hmm." He crossed to the wash basin and picked up the pitcher. It had a few grains of sand from the stream in the bottom, but that was it. Drizzt proceeded to wash. When he was finished, he went to the little flour barrel on the countertop and took a pinch. He sprinkled it into the pitcher, watching the water turn cloudy. "It's dirty now."
"Thanks." Cattie-brie's tone dripped sarcasm, but she was watching him with a smile, leaning back against the counter with her arms crossed.
"Well, can't let the children find out that their mother lied," Drizzt said lightly. "Very naughty of you."
"Mm-hmm, and what are you going to do about it?" She raised her eyebrows and her chin.
Drizzt's mouth curved in a wicked grin. He stalked toward her in two steps and set one hand on either side of her on the edge of the counter, effectively caging her there. "If you want me to do something about it, then ask me later tonight."
Cattie-brie straightened up and stepped forward with one hand on Drizzt's chest, setting him back on his heels and springing the trap. She smirked and ever so slowly plucked a single leaf out of his hair. "Oh, I will." She let her teasing look linger on his face.
A moment later, they both turned toward the back window, shattering the spell. Zak and Violet weren't in sight yet. Hopefully a good sign.
Cattie-brie turned back to the woodstove and lifted the heavy stew pot.
Drizzt took it from her. "Allow me."
"Thanks, Drizzt." She carried the platter of meat to the table, then went to the counter to slice the still-warm bread. "It looked like Zaknafein had been crying."
Drizzt leaned against the counter beside her and nodded. A mother's eyes missed little.
"Oh." Cattie-brie went back to the woodstove and stirred the custard. "He didn't cry last time."
"No," Drizzt agreed. "He didn't cry this time either." He crossed to the woodbox and added another log to the smoldering fire in the hearth, then sank down on the hearthstone. "Not from the switching, anyway. It was later, when we were talking. I called him d'anthe dalharuk, and he said he didn't know if I'd ever call him that again."
"Oh, Drizzt." Cattie-brie pressed a hand against her mouth.
Drizzt laced his fingers into his tangled hair and rested his palms on the sides of his scalp for a moment. "That, and he's worried Violet hates him."
Just then the back door burst open, and Zaknafein and Violet came in talking animatedly. "—and then Smokey stepped right into the saucer of milk!" Violet recounted.
Zak laughed. "Wish I'd seen that. But has she ever licked you? She licked my hand last night, and it felt all rough and tickly. It's like her tongue has little fish scales on it!"
"I know! It's so weird."
Drizzt and Cattie-brie shared a smile, and they all gathered around the table.
Much later that night, Drizzt and Cattie-brie lay in bed enjoying a feeling of perfect contentment. "I finally got you alone," Drizzt said, enjoying how the glow of candlelight touched the faint sheen of perspiration still visible on Cattie-brie's warm skin. "Been trying all day."
Drizzt leaned on one elbow and smiled down at her. "You are so beautiful, che."
Cattie-brie smiled and slipped her arms around him. "You're not so bad looking yourself."
He pulled her against his chest and lay back on the feather pillows with a chuckle. "Always complimentary, my Cattie-brie."
"Of course." She snuggled down and rested her head beneath his chin. One fair hand traced slowly up and down his midnight-black arm. "Truly, I may have noticed you for your exotic looks, but it was your heart that really won me over."
"Ah, Cat." Drizzt tipped up her chin with one finger and gazed into her sapphire eyes. "How blessed I am to have you."
"And I, you."
They snuggled down again, as close as could be.
"So," Cattie-brie asked after a moment, "was it worth the wait?"
Drizzt grinned and kissed the top of her head. "More than worth it."
She smiled back. "I thought so too."
Drizzt reached over and put out the candle, drawing the blankets more snugly around them.
"Sweet dreams, love," Cattie-brie murmured, head still against his chest.
He stroked her hair gently. "Sweet dreams, kitten."
And Drizzt fell asleep with his wife in his arms.
A/N: Now complete. Hope you enjoyed this little snapshot of their day. Thanks so much for reading—and reviewing if you would. I look forward to sharing more stories with you in the future.
d'anthe dalharuk = dear son
che = love
reviews = greatly appreciated ;)