Pale tabby paws crossed the thin threshold of the camp entrance, pushing past the reeds. Their drying stalks rubbing slightly rubbing the warrior-queen. She offered no attention. Far too used to the sensation each time she entered or exited camp and for one of RainClan's active warriors, the sense quickly dulled. Her hunting companion and niece, Owlfrost entered a quarter stride after her, brushing past her aunt to head toward the fresh-kill pile. Willowbreeze pressed into her nieces's touch for a moment, a quiet thank you for joining her on the hunt. The two have an almost wordless relationship. Compared to their siblings, the she-cats were more introverted. Choosing to spend the time in silence rather than chatting like a gaggle of geese. Furthering her appreciated for Owlfrost was the fact she had saved her and her kits from the fateful flood several moons prior. While it was unspoken, Willowbreeze knew in her heart Owlfrost would never accept her vow, Willowbreeze owed her life and the lives of her kits to Owlfrost and her companion Waverunner. Their lives second only to the lives of her kits, the safety, and legacy of RainClan a close third.
"Thank you for joining me," Willowbreeze commented, once she added the freshly caught water vole to the pile. Owlfrost dipped her head in acceptance of the phrase, stating she intended to seek out Waverunner to share tongues. Willowbreeze's brow rose, but she did not push her niece for any more information. How the younger warrior spent her time was none of Willowbreeze's business, but from the sparkle in Owlfrost's eye, she wondered how serious the two cats were becoming. Flicking her tail in farewell, Willowbreeze watched as Owlfrost parted.
Now alone, her kits off with their training, she pondered what to do next. Her warrior duties having ended with the hunt. She could always seek out Emberlight and offer to take a patrol for dusk, but her body ached. Not from illness or injury, but instead because of age. She still hadn't found the courage to state the grey fur around her whiskers and in her ears had come from age and not coat color. She fully expected cats to notice soon enough, especially as the dull hue of her pelt becomes more and more grey.
How funny it was to find herself nervous about the grey furs in her pelt. She retained enough energy to finish her daily duties, joined her kits in walking the territory, and patrolled when asked. So why it bothered her remained a mystery. Perhaps it was due to the perception that she was becoming old, less capable of defending herself, or tending her to family. Troutpaw and Stormpaw were both capable apprentices and quickly on their way to being solid warriors of RainClan. The time of needing their mother to tend to their groom and fuss of them had long since vanished. The times Troutpaw speaking quietly to her before dusk and asking for her to groom him before bed had become less frequent. Not that she bugged him about it. The day of their birth and almost drowning still haunted her dreams. She continued to check on him and his sister when she had nightmares. She needed their comfort just as much as they needed her's.
A slight breeze reminded her that she had been contemplating quietly for some time. Giving herself a gentle shake, she elected to pick a small fish and departed not for the warrior's den but for the nursery. To visit Echoshade. She considered the she-cat an almost friend, their mutual mate had made it clear to them both they were close and equal in his eyes. Willowbreeze carried no ill-will and refused the notion that they were in competition for Silverstar's affection.
Willowbreeze had a unique love for Silverstar and detested the idea that his affection and connection with Echoshade would ruin what they shared. It had been a mutual decision on both their parts not to tell the clan that Stormpaw and Troutpaw were kin of Silverstar. She had no want for her kits to be viewed as greater than or above other kits in the Clan. She wanted them to be typical, free to choose their own fate, not carry on some predetermined role because their classmates expected it of them. Furthermore, she did not care that Echoshade had made it known, it was not her choice to make.
Entering the nursery, Willowbreeze quickly relaxed all thoughts of kinship and relationships left at the entrance to the den. Soft snores of sleeping kits and their mother's soothed Willowbreeze's heart. She loved her time in the nursery and often missed it when she saw how big Troutpaw had grown. How tiny he had been in their nursery nest. Finding Echoshade, Willowbreeze greeted the she-cat with a polite bow of her head and presentation of the fish.
"I brought you this to eat, I think there is enough here to share," She explained, mentally diving the fish between the two of them. In truth even if the fish hadn't been big enough, which it was, Willowbreeze would have found another excuse to stay in the nursery for a few moments longer. While motherhood happened for her by unconventional means, she retained a deep respect for she-cats that decided to make it their life's work. Motherhood wasn't easy and those queens that stayed in the nursery to help the next queen or an orphan kit deserved all of StarClan's blessing and the highest level of respect. "How has your day been?" Her attempt at the small talk wasn't the best but she hoped Echoshade would accept it and carry on with her. Short bouts of social interaction were manageable for Willowbreeze. One on one conversations or small groups remained her preference and with the other queens in the nursery sound asleep, their time together would hopefully remain that way. Glancing briefly in the direction of one of the newest's nests, Willowbreeze offered an awkward smile to one queen who opened an eye at the sound of her voice before she turned and nestled into her nest. in ideal.
She was content in her role for the clan. Caring for motherless kits, helping new queens, moving moss and providing whatever comfort each she-cat needed was her life's truest joy. Next to having had kits of her own, of course. While Echoshade wouldn't mind having another litter, that required a mate that she technically didn't have. Silverstar had gifted her with Ferngaze and Dewfrost many moons ago, and they were still her treasures. She had cared for many kits between now and then, but those two were hers and it made her happy.
As he'd gotten older Echoshade noticed that Silverstar doted more and more on she and Willowbreeze publicly. In his youth that would have been unusual, but he was growing up now. Settling down. He was finally the leader she'd known he always would be when he'd taken up the mantle so young. Time hadn't been kind to RainClan, but now, with kits and a rebuilt camp, things were finally going back to normal.
She lifted her head when she heard the other she-cat enter, a smile beaming on her pretty face before she swept her tail out and sat up so that Willowbreeze could sit in the nest with her. "Thank you. I was just thinking of getting up to grab a bite."
Echoshade hummed softly, her large eyes looking over the other queen for a moment before sighing happily. Silverstar had chosen well, even if he didn't want to call either of them his mate. He loved them both in equal ways, and that was more than enough for her. And she was happy that another she-cat could see him for who he really was, a decent and hard-working tom who loved his clanmates and wanted only the best for them all.
"Peaceful. Rippletide finally went to sleep after she kitted late last night. She's such a fussy little queen that I had to go lie with her for hours before she'd calm down. Dewfrost wanted to give her something to relax her, but she wouldn't take it." Said queen opened an eye to give them a look at Echoshade just purred at her. "Go back to sleep, everything is fine."