It is now Leaf-fall, Valley Year 8
The weather is now crisp and cool, with hints of frost forming overnight in the later moons. Prey is becoming scarce, leaves are changing colors. The valley feels busier somehow.
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Leaf-fall 16 The previous days rain ends with the winds pushing the clouds over the mountains, clearing the sky but leaving the valley muddy, damp and difficult to traverse.
Clear skies were painted a brilliant red and orange, as if the fading sun wanted to make up for the bleak skies and dismal weather of the past few days by setting the sky on fire. A beautiful leaf-fall sunset, special if only as one of the few remaining ones before the weather truly turned harsh and unforgiving. Still, he mused, turning slightly to press his nose into the pale fur tickling his cheek, it was nowhere where near as beautiful or special as the she-cat laying beside him. Blue eyes gazed at her as he breathed in her familiar scent, basking in the warmth and comfort that it brought him. The sense of home.
It was funny: cats always spoke of how love was like a fire, burning bright and full of passion, but this? This was no fire. This was a stream meandering through new territory, growing slowly and forever changing. There was a future here. Where fires burned themselves out, rivers lasted for eternity. And this? This would last – he could feel it deep in his chest. This was not intense and powerful; this was gentle and quiet. Steady. This promised a partner with whom he could share his nest on the cold leaf-bare nights and a home, a safe refuge for when the world started to feel too mean. Emotion bubbled up in his throat, warming him, choking him. StarClan, he loved her so much. Reflected in her gaze, the sunset brought out the yellow in her eyes, and he couldn’t help the small, fond smile playing on his lips as he finally caved and gave her cheek a gentle lick.
He was, without a doubt, the luckiest cat in the world. And he would fight anyone who said otherwise.
As the days crawled by and the seasons passed in leaps and bounds, they had slipped from acquaintances to friends to mates. Somewhere along the line, she had become the most important cat in his life, and when he pictured himself in the future, she was always by his side. A constant. His best friend. His heart. And when he had finally worked up the courage to tell her how the sound of her voice – even just the mention of her name – had his heart skipping a beat and her smile made him feel like flying, she had, miraculously, felt the same. The loveliest she-cat in the entire valley, the one with the most beautiful heart, had chosen him. Sometimes, when he woke up early and couldn't fall back asleep, he just watched the rise and fall of her sides and marveled at the fact that he shared his nest with such a wonderful feline. The chill of the night had begun to creep in, and moving closer, he broke the companionable silence with a warm, "Have I ever told you how much I love you?"
What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales, in comparison to what lies inside you Ralph Waldo Emerson
She hadn't quite been sleeping, per say, but her yellow-green eyes were closed as she simply enjoyed the warmth of the tom beside her. Yes, the sunset was stunning, and she was sure if she spent some time examining it, she would find some form of delight and appreciation from it. Yet, she was perfectly content basking in the indescribable joy that washed over her with every breath she took, for her breathing brought with it the scent of Bravebird. Her mate. That word still brought with it a happy shiver. How had she gotten so lucky?
Lucky enough that a gentle, polite tom like Bravebird, who any she-cat would have been delighted to call hers, had picked her.
A soft sound escaped her as a nose pressed itself into her cheek. One eye cracked open at the touch, focusing on the tom at her side with a purr. Her long-furred tail twitched, sweeping around her to tuck up against his side too. The more contact she had with him, the more comfortable she felt. She'd never been a confident she-cat. She likely never would be. However, when Bravebird was with her, she felt as though, just maybe... She could take on the world for a moment.
The pale coated tom looked as though he had something to say to her, which caught her attention. Lifting her head from her paws and opening her other eye, she offered him a sweet smile, returning his touch by pressing her forehead to his chin. That seemed to do the trick, for he inhaled quietly, before filling the quiet air with that voice she loved to hear so much. His words warmed her pelt, and had she not been covered in thick fawn-colored fur, she certainly would be bright red and blushing.
Oh, but she loved it when he spoke to her like that.
She still failed to fathom why he'd chosen her. Why these words were reserved for someone like her. But, StarClan above, she would accept it graciously, and hold onto the warm feeling he brought her until she drew her last breath. Her purr faltered, a small sign of her surprise at the words, but when it picked back up, it was louder than ever. Touching her muzzle to his and leaning against him, she mewed quietly in response. "You know... You might have, but what if I've forgotten? We wouldn't want that, would we?" She joked, and though her voice was meek, it was full of love and steady.
A far cry from her usual stammering.
"Maybe... Just to make sure, you should tell me again. Otherwise, we run the risk that I actually love you more!"
This was it. There was no way his life could get any better than this moment, laying here with the she-cat of his dreams pressed against him and the sound of her quiet voice in his ears. At her words, a purr rumbled deep in his chest, amusement and fondness evident in the smile on his face. He loved hearing her voice – StarClan knew he could listen to her talk all day – and the way her usual stammer had, when it was just the two of them, long since disappeared when she spoke touched him more than she could know. It was a manifestation of lack of confidence, he suspected, and the knowledge that she felt at such ease around him was humbling. His smile grew at the memory of that first day when she finished a sentence without stumbling over the words.
He made a quiet sound of agreement at her question, nudging her lightly with his nose as he spoke. ”Well,” The pale-furred tom murmured warmly, and he shifted slightly so his side was pressed more firmly along hers. A playful lilt entered his voice as he tilted his head at the somewhat awkward angle necessary to see her face. ”Let me put to rest any fears you may have about loving me more, Minnie: there is no risk of you loving me more than I love you. That is a fact.” Blue eyes, bright with affection, met yellow-green as his grin grew. ”But if you’ve forgotten exactly just how much I love you, then I guess I’ll just have to remind you, because we certainly cannot have you forgetting.”
After rolling in the other direction onto his back, he paused for a moment, just marveling at his mate. There were no words that could properly describe the love bubbling up through his chest. He was so, so lucky, and he had absolutely no hope of properly telling her how amazing she was and how she made him feel like the luckiest cat in the world. With slightly mischievous grin, he gathered himself and said, “I love you from here—“ He bopped her nose lightly with a playful paw. “—To here.” His tail flicked hers. “I love you more than there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on the shore.” There was another pause as the playfulness faded somewhat, giving way to honest sincerity. ”I don’t know what I’d ever do without you, Minnowsplash. You mean more to me than anyone else, and I love you more than you could ever know.”
Wide, greenish eyes blinked twice rapidly as a gentle paw tapped her on the tip of her nose. Instinctively, her muzzle twitched, wriggling briefly as her mind caught up with what had just occurred. Could you really blame her for being so wrapped up in everything that was Bravebird? Her perfect mate. With every word that met her ears, her heart grew warmer, and the affection glimmering in her eyes all the more visible. She wanted nothing more than to bury her face in his chest and just be. But then she might risk interrupting him, and the moment was far too wonderful to risk such a thing. And so she listened, a gentle smile painted on her fawn-colored features.
Eventually she managed to pull her gaze away from him to peer up at the sky of which he spoke. Despite the sun still creeping down below the horizon, the warrioress was surprised to see the distinctive sparkle of stars in the sky. Silverpelt had decided to show itself early, and that alone warmed her heart further. It just… Brought that little pinch more to Bravebird’s words as he sought to describe to her just how much he loved her.
As near-outlandish comparisons gave way to honest sincerity, Minnowsplash closed any distance that had formed between them and pressed their foreheads together. Green eyes closed as she breathed him in, her ears attuned only to the sounds that were Bravebird. In this moment, nothing else mattered. She was in her own world, a world where it was only him and her. There was nothing further that she desired, nothing more that she needed to be happy, for he was her happiness. He was…
“I love you too, Bray-Bray.” She whispered to him, as though speaking any louder would break the flawless dream in which they existed. “To the ends of the earth, and far passed Silverpelt. You are… My breath, my heartbeat, and my soul. You… Have always had more of a way with words than me, so you’ll have to pardon me borrowing your words.” She laughed softly at this, before pulling her forehead away from his just so, enabling her to look him in the eyes as she continued.
“I love you more than you could ever know, more than… Than I could ever put into words. But I thank StarClan for the day you looked at me and saw something. Something worthy. Something beautiful.” She’d never thought of herself as particularly pretty, if she was honest. But when she saw the way Bravebird looked at her, when she listened to the words he chose to describe her… It made it easy to believe that maybe she was. In that moment she knew…
Anything he asked of her, she would give him. He had become her everything, and she doubted there was a force on earth capable of changing that now.