Post by Fawntastic on Mar 24, 2018 14:16:31 GMT -5
37 MOONS LIGHTNINGCLAN WARRIOR
There's only one king, and there's only one crown
Leafbare had been killing him piece by piece. Harestrike lost more weight than most, and though there was a prey shortage to blame, Harestrike's troubles were much more than scorched territory. Or maybe that's exactly what it was like? Parts of his life had gone up in flames, burning everything possibly past the point of return or recovery, and he couldn't shake the feeling that the fire was going to spread.
'I'm pregnant with your kits Harestrike'.
Those words had haunted him for days without end. Their 'breakup' had been cruel and abrupt. He was not proud of the things he'd said; panic and immaturity could make a cat say a lot of stupid things. Though he regretted all of it, his fears were wrapped up in the future, that dreaded day when Maplebrook might walk across the border with a litter in tow to tell the entire Clan that they were his.
StarClan above, this was going to kill him.
Yet underneath the panic attacks, and the spontaneous bursts of guilt every time he saw Dovecloud out of the corners of his eyes, Harestrike wanted to know. Wanted to know what they looked like. What their names were. Maybe it was the delirium from infrequent meals, but the tabby and white warrior had fallen into a feverish daydream, wondering what it would be like to go into TreeClan and visit Maplebrook. Visit their kits.
Pretend, just for a second, that he wasn't Morningfrost's son - that he wasn't a LightningClan cat at all.
With their forests healthy and lush, TreeClan had looked like paradise from afar. LightningClan, with it's scorched earth and ashen trees, hell.
Harestrike rolled his eyes, annoyed with how much this was tearing at him. Me, a TreeClan cat? Yeah right. That was impossible, and even if he wanted to join, he was still loyal to LightningClan. To his mother, even if he'd... made a few mistakes.
When the weather warmed up a little and he was steadier on his paws, Harestrike left camp. Surruptitious glances marked his path, the young warrior paranoid he was being followed as he went to the Open Woods. What were his chances of finding Maplebrook here? Not high. But he couldn't keep waiting in the dark like this. Rather than draw attention to himself by sitting at the scentline, Harestrike pretended to hunt, though his head and heart were buzzing with noise.
The she cat was on a warpath as she marched over to the border of Lightningclan and Treeclan. Her green eyes reflecting nothing but sadness and anger when she was interrupted by an all to familiar smell. Harestrike! Maplebrook hesitated as she approached the border but upon seeing the tom, her resolve strengthened and she crossed the border into Lightningclan territory without so much as a glance at the tom, patrolling before her/
" Take me to Firestar" she did not bother with a please or even the respect of his name, He had broken her heart and did not deserve for her to be as nice to him as she had been. It was high time he payed for his actions that day she told him she was pregnant and while her news now was more to expose Harestrike for being the unforgiavable cheater that he was, to his mother, siblings and entire clan. Her heart clenched as she saw him, the father of her kits so blissfully unaware of their fate, the fact that Starclan had taken them from her before they had even begun to live. He hadn't been there, to see their lifeless little forms, covered in her blood as Falconstorm tried to save them.
"The loss of a child is a process, it starts the day the child passes and ends the day the parent joins them"
Harestrike had expected her to be hostile - but not like this. The LightningClan tom's gaze swept over the gray tabby she-cat's flanks, surprised to see her looking so... normal. So she had them. It was almost as if they weren't real; other than her word, Harestrike would never get the chance to see them. At gatherings some day, maybe, when they were apprentices or warriors. And by then she'll have already told them I'm dead, or lower than foxdung.
He couldn't put those feelings into words, but it turned his stomach into knots. Any joy once felt over seeing her again, the cat who had (unfairly) been his escape from the life he led at home, had mutated into dread. Those pleasant days were gone, and in its place was a reality he'd do anything to change. But he couldn't change it.
Facing the furious Maplebrook, the fur along his spine raised, startled, at her demand.
"Take me to Firestar." She said, as she recklessly crossed their border.
"Why?" Harestrike made a demand of his own, reproachful of her intentions. Is she going to tell Firestar about us? A wave of nausea hit him full in the stomach, bile rising to the back of his throat. He glanced beyond Maplebrook to the dense forests behind her; somewhere in there was TreeClan's encampment. "I take it you told Lionstar... ?" Watching her expression for signs of discomfort or truth, confirming his suspicions that she hadn't said a word to TreeClan's leader, Harestrike shifted his focus. "I know we don't mean anything to each other, and you don't owe me anything. I only wanted to ask about them." 'Them'. The kits. Do they look like us? Are they toms? She-kits? How many?
These questions shouldn't have been important to him, but they were. He couldn't stop himself from gazing at her with a hidden longing to know those answers. It had never been his intention to sire a litter with anyone other than Dovecloud - if he actually stopped to think about it, he wasn't sure he'd wanted kits to begin with - but it had happened.
He'd been an idiot. They'd both been idiots, him a little more than her. But they were idiots with kits now, and if he could find a way to walk this tightrope of disaster without destroying everything that mattered to him, talking to Maplebrook was probably the way to do it. That is, if she doesn't claw my ears off first.
"Why?' It was none of his business why she wanted to see Firestar, what she did was her prerogative not his, he did not have a say, not anymore. While she wanted to ignore him and his stupidly handsome face, her guilt grew and reluntantly she opened her mouth to reply. " Because I asked you to..duh" she spoke harshly only for him to continue and ask if she had told Lionstar about him " Don't be stupid Harestrike, Why would I tell him? You would have to mean something to me, which you don't, Not anymore" her tone turned bored, already sick of explaining herself to this stupid tom who was not worth her time to begin with.
Then he said it, those dreaded words " I only wanted to ask about them." Them meaning their two kits, Pantherkit and Brightkit and Maplebrook recoiled as if she had been fatally clawed, her fur fluffing up as she glared at him. " How dare you!!!! While you mean nothing to me now but let me remind you that you once did and that was got us into this mess." She spoke evenly, void of emotion as she spoke to the tom who had once broke her heart.
You are right I do not owe you anything but don't pretend to care about them now after everything you have done to me. to Dovecloud" She snarled at him, bright eyes narrowing at him as her mind begged her for a release, to hurt her as much as he hurt her but she did'nt do it, not yet.
But even if he didn't care about her, about them, he still deserved to know. "You will never know our kits... My kits..." It sounded like a promise but it wasn't and at this point she launched at the tom, but not in agression as sobs escaped her parted maw." Th.. the... they are gone, to S.. Starclan" She finally choked out before turning her face from the tom. " I lost to much blood and Falconstorm.. he tried to save them.. but they were gone before they even knew the world" She explained after several minutes of sobbing. It was over, they had nothing between them now, she had no reason to hurt him anymore.
"The loss of a child is a process, it starts the day the child passes and ends the day the parent joins them"
Any hope for a civil conversation quickly broke down, and Maplebrook broke down even faster. The young warrior’s eyes, wide with shock, gaped at the TreeClan cat as her words, like they always did, turned his world upside down again. First mention of Dovecloud had replaced all his blood with ice-water - how did she find out? Does Dovecloud know? - but that problem became as insignificant as an ant mound. The kits were…
Harestrike felt numb, his expression twisting at the harshness of those words, as if he could prevent himself from hearing it if he just flattened his ears and scrunched his muzzle. But she’d said them, and the implications hit him like a gale-force wind. The kits are gone.
He didn’t feel relieved. The opposite, in fact. It would shock him later, when he spent a few sleepless nights tossing and turning in his nest, that he felt true sorrow at their loss. They hadn’t really been… alive, they hadn’t been breathing, living creatures that deserved a responsible father before now. They’d just been a problem he didn’t know how to solve.
StarClan, he was such a fool. Did StarClan punish us? Was this the cost of an affair that crossed borders? Maplebrook had been considerably less guilty than he; she hadn’t cheated on her mate with a cat from another Clan. Is it my fault? The world tilted on its axis, and a hole opened up into the earth for Harestrike’s stomach to drop through. ”I’m sorry,” whispered the tom. ”I’m sorry for everything, Maplebrook.” He forced his legs to carry him forward, and, risking her wrath, he touched his nose to her shoulder fur. ”They deserved more. Better. A lot better than what they were given.” Better than death instead of life.
If he hadn’t been cheating, and these kits had come about in a less scandalous way, would they have lived?
That question, and the lack of an answer, was going to tear him apart for the rest of his life.
Harestrike was clearly shocked by the new of their kit's deaths, after all he had never gotten to meet them, never knew what they looked like as as much as Maplebrook tried to forget their tiny unmoving frames the image could not be erased from the mother's mind. She had told herself that just because her kits were in Starlcan before they had a life with her, did not mean that she was not a mother, nor did it make Harestrike, not a father. Right now all anger was put aside as the two parents shared a moment of grief.
" I named them... Brightkit, she was a little she cat, she looked mostly like you, but I am sure she would of had my eyes, and Pantherkit, well he was black and grey. I buried them next to the rest of my family, I would show you but I doubt Lionstar would allow it and I don't want to tell him why I want a Lightningclan cat on out territory without telling him the whole story" She explained, not meeting the tom's gaze. " I was so angry at you, for hurting me, I almost didn't tell you, I was just gonna march up to Firestar and spill your secret, to hurt you as much as you did me, but then I saw you and it all came back, the moment we met where you nearly ran me over, the night of the storm. I remembered the good bits" She finished. Of course she remembered the moment where she told him she was pregnant as well, the way he renounced her and their entire relationship as if it was nothing more than a apprenticehood fling but honestly she did not want to hurt anymore and somehow, telling Harestrike about her feelings, or even just being with him, took all that away.
It was a cruel twist of fate that made Maplebrook realise that after all he had done to her, she still loved him, but as much as she wanted to tell him that, it did not change the facts. He had a mate, Dovecloud and he had cheated on her. Go another she-cat pregnant with his kits.. It did not change the fact that deep down Maplebrook knew that as much as she loved him, she could not forgive him and it was that thought that made her pull away from his embrace.
"I...still...lov...... I'm sorry I can't do this" she stammered her excuse quickly before turning on her heel to retreat back into Treeclan's territory, where the horrible reminder of what had happened was etched on her clanmates faces. She hated that, their sympathy, she had grown up being forgotten about and for once she wished it would go back to being that way. That way she could mourn in peace without her clanmates constantly stopping her with ' Sorry for your lose" when they did not understand.
"Brightkit... and Pantherkit," Harestrike murmured those names aloud, feeling at once a strange mixture of grief and pride. They - his kits - were buried next to the rest of her family. Harestrike bitterly realized he had never known Maplebrook's family had been dead to begin with; he hadn't cared or thought to ask. She had just been a distraction, an escape. StarClan, he'd really messed up.
He couldn't apologize, he wasn't sure if it would matter anymore. The warrioress was leaving, and taking her grief - and the last of anything linking them together - with her. Harestrike watched her go, feeling lost in the swirling eddies of a life he had never at all imagined for himself. Yet here they were. So much pain and loss... And I'm afraid of Morningfrost's reaction, Harestrike scoffed at himself. I'm a coward.
I remembered the good bits. Maplebrook had said. Harestrike slowly turned, paws as heavy as stones, yet his heart somehow heavier with the news, back to the heart of LightningClan's territory. He felt thinner somehow. More tired. No sooner had the tabby and white tom lost sight of the open woods that a painfully unwelcome, familiar shape stepped up with haughty, glinting eyes. "Well that was quite a show," said Eaglepaw, grinning like a lynx that had caught him in his claws.
Harestrike's stomach twisted itself into knots, anger bubbling over into a fullblown snarl. "What's the matter? Can't mind your own business?"I'm dead. How much had Eaglepaw heard? How much had he seen? Foxdung, he's going to tell her.
Eaglepaw's laugh was mocking, and rang in his ears like crow-call. "I had no idea I was an uncle," Eaglepaw sneered. "Well... sort of."
A flash of blind fury rippled through Harestrike like a rogue storm wind. He lashed out, catching his brother's muzzle in his claws. Eaglepaw gasped, and leaped back, hissing and spitting as droplets of blood speckled the grass. "You out of your mind? You're finished, Harestrike!" Eaglepaw wiped at his stinging muzzle, glaring hatefully. "Enjoy this while you can, 'brother'. By the time you make it back to camp, you'll be as dead to us as your kits."
Harestrike lunged for him again, but the smaller tom feinted and took off. Harestrike knew he could catch him, if he tried. But that would do nothing. Eaglepaw would tell Morningfrost, no matter what. The life he had known was fading away before his very eyes, carried away on the dark brown pelt of the cat racing for camp. Yet Eaglepaw was a bit late. The life Harestrike had known had ended as soon as he'd found out he was a father.
The ground had caved in beneath him, this brief reconciliation with Maplebrook had been a root to clasp, to catch himself on. But that root had broken.
And by StarClan, there was still so much more darkness left to fall through.