The snow had just started to fall. Willowbreeze watched from the threshold of the warrior's den. Little dancing snowflakes nearly hypnotized the lynx point she-cat. The only thing that pulled her attention was the sound of Owlfrost's voice. Her niece returning from a fishing trip. Catching the young she-cat's gaze, Willowbreeze ventured out into the light snowfall. Forever grateful for her niece and the help she provided in getting her out of the camp during the flood. Willowbreeze greeted the tabby she-cat, sharing a quiet moment.
Once parting, Willowbreeze half tempted to venture out on her own fishing trip. Instead, she paused. Her inner voice reminding her she hadn't seen Silverstar since early the day before. Ever loyal to the leader of their Clan, she gave up the idea of fishing to instead seek him out.
Pausing long enough to shake the few collected snowflakes on her flank, Willowbreeze entered the leader's den. Clearing her throat to alert him to her presence. "Silverstar? Are you awake?" While permission had been given to her awhile ago to enter his den at any time, Willowbreeze refused to encroach on his alone time. Preferring to stay near the entrance, just inside to avoid getting too cold. She waited. Quietly sweeping her tail back and forth as she waited for his reply.
He's awoken early from another nightmare, the same scene over and over. He imagined it was always traumatic, dying and then reviving. Leaders were given extra lives to prevent their early loss, but nothing had prepared him for it actually happening to him. Death to the river was even scarier, as he was a strong swimmer and had never feared the water before. Now, though he wasn't afraid, it did make him dread going fishing anything soon.
His mind had spun around in circles, going over the dream and what it meant that he was still thinking about his first death, when the first snowflakes drifted past his gaze. Silverstar's attention immediately went rapt, joy spreading across his face as he tilted his blue eyed gaze upward. Leafbare, in all her glory, was truly here. He loved the snow, the cold and the quiet, the way it covered everything and made it new again. Leafbare was a cold mate to have, but she was his one and only, that something that had always retained his fascinated attention throughout his life. His mother had heard him speak of leafbare before without saying the word, and thought he'd met some pretty she-cat that had finally gotten through to his heart.
Leafbare meant snow, meant his silver pelt stuck out far less. It meant long quiet walks, watching his pawprints in the deep snow, walking the ice and feeling free as he drifted across it without faltering or falling. Though leafbare could be mischievous and send him to his face or into a drift, he never stopped loving the season.
The tom was snapped from his joy-filled reverie by the sound of a familiar voice. His smile grew as he stood and shook himself, approaching the den entrance. "Willowbreeze! Please come in, its too cold for you to linger outside." He nudged her side with his head, urging her into his den where it was warm.
His tone was warm and he couldn't help the chuckling at her question. "I've been up since dawn came over the river."
Glad to hear his voice, Willowbreeze returned to touch with a murmur of a purr. His presense a comforting light in her life. As coaxed, Willowbreeze followed him into the leader's den. It came as little surprise that he had been up since dawn. She knew how deeply he loved leafbare. It would seem it would've been smarter to venture out to the snow cover territory before trying to catch him in his den.
Coming to sit inside the den, her tail tucked over her forepaws for warmth. Unlike her dearest friend, Willowbreeze had no love for leafbare. Cold days made hunting difficult, her paws ached from being numb. The fear of drowning in icy water made her nervous near the water's edge. Never one to trust the ice that covered any body of water.
"I'm glad you got to spend time in the snow," She purred, her words genuine. "I wanted to see if you were doing alright. We've had a few tense moons and with the fighting between NightClan and TreeClan, I worry about you," She paused, fixing him with her gentle and kind gaze. "I know you can handle everything StarClan throws your way, but I know even the strongest stone finds relief when the river stops flowing," Crossing the minimal space between them, she nudged his cheek. A gesture of friendship and a reminder she would always be there to help or encourage.
"Oh I haven't been out to play in it yet." His words were bright, chipper and excited like a young kit with a new thing to play with. "Otherwise nobody would have seen me all day. Its the first snow of leafbare, I like to watch it more." He settled at her side, listening to her speak and feeling his heart crush inside of him as another cat in his life brought up, even in the roundabout way she had, his death.
She meant well, but he was getting very tired of dealing with it. He just wanted to pretend it never happened, at least until the nightmares stopped. But he wasn't going to tell her that. "I don't really care what happens outside our clan. If they want to make themselves burn with war then they can leave us out of it." He wasn't isolationist exactly, just for keeping RainClan from a fight that had nothing to do with them. They had just started really stabilizing their own internal problems, he wasn't going to shake things up by entering a war.
He didn't react when she cuddled against him, the nudge actually made him flinch, which had never been true for him towards any she-cat. "Everyone that knows is worried about me. I've been having nightmares and panic attacks, and the sight of fish makes me feel sick to my stomach so I haven't eaten much since we came back to camp. I'm tired, I'm cold and can't seem to get warm, but mostly I'm..."
He stopped himself there, he felt the dark flash of irritation at himself for not speaking his mind. Really, he'd been so irritable of late. Tired of the pity he saw in the cats that knew he had lost a life, tired of Dewfrost making him take herbs to try and ease off the panic attacks that he had when nobody was around. For StarClan's sake, why couldn't they all just leave him alone for a few days to just enjoy the snow and not think about it?!
They meant well, they wanted to help him, they wanted to be beside him. When all he wanted, right now, was to be left to watch the snow. Or play in it, to go out and see if the ice had frozen enough to slide across it, to find joy in something instead of horror in everything. And everyone, because everyone that knew it reminded him more of what had happened.
It was impossible to hide the concern that came across her face. As he flinched from her touch, Willowbreezez wanted nothing more then to comfort him even more. Motherhood made her quicker to fret, but he knew it would only bother the tom-cat. Instead she activetly held back, her forepaws tensing with the urge to help him.
Instead of covering him in comforting nuzzles, Willowbreeze readjusted her place beside him. Offering a bit more space between them. She wouldn't impose.
As he explained the nightmares and feeling sick when looking at fish, Willowbreeze chest grew tight. Exhaustion would sooner steal more lives then any river or fight, she kept that comment to herself. Deciding it not the best time to preach to him about working himself to death. Perhaps she could mention it to his mother in passing. She'd have to pick words to avoid setting off any warning calls. The last thing she wanted was to be the start of rumors.
When he cut himself off, her brow furrowed. Why was he holding back? Confusion flashed across her features, head tilting slightly before she corrected herself. If she pushed she ran the risk of Silverstar shutting her out completely. Something she feared deeply.
"If it makes you feel any better, I promise not to bring it up again until you are ready," Unsure if that was what he wanted, Willowbreeze offered it to him nonetheless.
"When it snows again can I join you? Keep you company, I won't ever slide on the ice as you do, I'll probably break something but I can watch," She wanted to lighten the mood, ease away any dark and stormy thoughts within his head. She wanted him content and at peace, even if that meant braving the cold winter days. When she much rather be curled up in her nest, nose buried in her tail to keep warm.