I think the ghost of Hemingway will give a ring again for writing this one, because it is nothing vaguely like Hills Like White Elephants in which a man and a woman talk about abortion in the subtlest manner possible. I wanted to write this because the Drizzt-Dalaktos crossover parody turned into something else and not only helped me understand my elves (and ninja) better, it pointed out how Drizzt might have grown long after his adventures (and I DO hope Salvatore doesn't intend to bastardise this excellent character all the thousand years of Drizzt's life), had some warped imagination like mine been allowed to shape him.
LEGALITIES all characters owned by Lim HweiLin, Drizzt Do'Urden and Forgotten Realms creatures appear without written permission of TSR and RA Salvatore no copyright infringements intended as appearance is not exploited for personal gain.
A sense of rain heavy on the tiles and shingles of roofs, spilling with fat splashes off the mouths of gutters and drainpipes. The smell of it, a fresh bitter taste thin in the back of your throat and nose, coming in with a fine mist of spray through the open window. Down the streets the thin rivers rushed and made the stones wet and the pedestrians grumpy and the horses miserable.
"Watch how it carries everything away with it," the girl said.
"It's not carrying us away."
"It is. We're moving along with it. Like it's a dream. Isn't it?"
"It's anything you want it to be."
He reached across her to close the window. His arm was bare and the skin smooth and black. The girl made a noise and swatted it away, her face screwing up, a child making a face. "Leave it be. I like it."
"You'll catch cold. There's water coming in."
"I'm strong," she said, grandly.
"You don't like catching cold."
"That was wintertime. That was different. Anyway if I caught cold I wouldn't die from it because you would be there and you would make sure I didn't die."
She said the word 'die' so easily and every time the word tripped out she did not see how his face changed, under the white hair trailing long over his eyes. She was very young and she did not understand things like this yet. He left her at the window to rummage through clothes in the bag. Above the sound of him moving so carefully was the clatter of hooves on cobbles and smacking through puddles, the raindrops falling on the roof of the rest-house, and, through the floor, a desperate sort of music thin and wailing off the strings of a violin. In the wooden boards underfoot you could find a beat to pick up and tap a foot absently to. It was all very different.
"When are we going to get there?" she asked.
"I can't wait," she said. "I can't wait to be there. I feel bad thinking about how I left and how I didn't even say goodbye properly, but then I think of where we're going and I feel good again. And I don't even feel bad about that."
He put the coat around her. It was coarse and warm and too big. The ends of her hair lay on the collar, curling and slightly damp already, and in her fringe, on her eyelashes, fine droplets of rain, tiny crystals hanging on her.
"You shouldn't stand here too long," he said. "You'll feel it, tomorrow."
"I don't care."
"Tomorrow, you'll care. You need to convince them that you are strong enough."
"I am strong enough. And if I'm not, then you will definitely be strong enough."
"But what you want to learn from them, that's something I cannot help you with."
"You can do some magic, like the purple fire, and the black round ball," she said. "The magic that they're going to teach me is like that, too. You heard what they said, didn't you? They said I could be so good if I wanted to learn from them. And we're going to see them now. So you see, you've already helped me."
She was smiling, and he always liked to look at her when she was smiling, because when she did not smile, there was so much tragedy in her face. The tragedy came from the eyes, which were too big, and the mouth, small and full and sad. Her face was not very pretty except for the smile and then it was beautiful, but that was only what he thought. Many other people thought her attractive with or without the smile. But those people were all miles away and none knew that he was here with the girl, or where they were going. That was his secret, and hers.
"What will you do when you have learnt all the magic that you can learn?" he asked.
"I'll make you the most beautiful and powerful scimitar in the whole wide world and also make you a most beautiful scabbard to put it in and when we are being married you'll wear the scabbard and then you'll take out the scimitar and do something clever with it to make everybody go oooh and ahhhh over you."
"Especially the women."
"But I won't mind, because I know you'll be doing it for me."
"And you must make yourself a very beautiful dress. To match the scabbard."
"And after that I'll be able to help you when you go around trying to make people stop fighting each other and repair the places in the earth that the fighting destroyed. And we'll make it a nice place to live in again."
"I think that's the best use of magic that I've heard of so far," he said.
"And all we have to do to make this happen is just wait for me to learn enough magic from them."
She leaned back into him because he was standing right behind her now and he was right about the rain being cold. It was quiet, in his arms, when he stood silent and strong and she turned her head to listen to his heart beating and the blood flowing as thought it would flow forever in him. She could not know how he was feeling exactly the opposite, how very fragile and sparrow-like and transient her life felt when he held it all close to him, only to feel it slipping by.
"Don't you like it?" she asked him.
"Well... what we were talking about, a moment ago. All the things we'll do when I've learned enough and I can do things, great things, the way you do great things. You had to go somewhere to learn how to fight the way you do, didn't you?"
"So I have to go to them, and learn how to do this. I've got the gift, they said. But they didn't want to force Mother to let me go. They are so polite, don't you think?"
"I think they were sensible," he said, dryly. "I would not like to force your mother to do anything."
"She liked you, you know."
"A bit. She said you had done a lot of nice things in your life. But she didn't like me talking about you all the time. I don't know why. She didn't like you in that way, like she likes some boys when they came to look for me."
"She must not like me very much any more, now."
"Oh, that wasn't your fault," the girl said, and her mouth was no longer sad but laughing with the silliness of his guilt. "It wasn't you taking me with you, it was me taking you with me. Anyway when I've got my magic properly I'll make the most wonderful wedding dinner she could have imagined and put her at the head of the biggest table and she'll see. They'll all see."
"Why don't you think wizards have grander wedding ceremonies? You would think someone would have had an idea like this before."
"They got too busy wanting power. Magic doesn't make you think about power, does it? I won't think about power. I have more important things. We have more important things. That's it! They forgot the important things. That's why."
It sounded very right and simple when she said it like that, and he wished it could really be as easy as getting to the place where the wizards were, waiting for her to learn magic, performing a scimitar dance of joy for wedding guests beneath confetti rain. Over the top of her head he looked out at the roofs sloping crazy and the water falling constant on everything, drowning the city and the streets and the hills like white basilisks in the distance.
"What if we forget our important things?" he asked, softly.
The words only moved his lips. All she heard was the falling rain and his beating heart and the dreams in her head.
[the end. for the confused, this is Drizzt talking to the human girl who eventually gave him his son, the one that he tries to get back in drizzt's cross.]