Never Left Your SideNever Left Your Siderainwolfeh
He was watching. Of course he was watching.
The starry forests, plains, deserts he roamed were beautiful, dappled in starlight - the rivers that cut through the ethereal landscape pure moonshine, lapping lightly at sapphire shores. Echoing laughter of kits was audible in the air, silvery pelts tumbling and chasing eachother on starry paws. He was surrounded by familiar cats, those who had passed alongside him, luminescent pelts of those long forgotten.They had welcomed him with open paws, initiated them into their starry ranks, some with scorn in their gaze, others with sorrow. But still they had taken him in as one of their own.
But nothing in this cosmic landscape compared to her beauty. The silver trees seemed bare, lifeless, without her smiling eyes beside him, empty without her laughter. The throngs of hundreds of cats lonely company, for only she could fill the void inside his heart. As soon he had entered the land
There was no escaping it. The nightmares— so influenced she was by the emotional ordeal she had been distributed— were vile, and tortuous with fear, drowning, and then... then pitch blackness. She was fighting, struggling against the darkness of it all, darkness that sought to drown her in its sickly depths, its teeth dripping with malice. For a moment, there was a hapless air. Silence. All was quiet except for the numb beating of her heart, and then her shallow breathing. Breathe in. Breath out. Inhale. Exhale...
Then ice cold terror would rush through her veins when she realized that the ground— this dark, indiscernible surface— was slipping away from her, giving way to a expense of blackness that would pinch at her fur and lap gluttonously at her forelegs. And she she would sink. She'd try to climb, or swim, anything to get to the surface, but found herself only sinking further into its dark depths, and her breath no longer able to hold. Her chest would feel like it was collapsing on itself, and her vision would get blurry. But still she tried to hold her breath to prevent the throttling darkness from making its way into her lungs, hoping maybe, just maybe something will happen and she'd find her way to the surface again... But there never was any surface— just pitch blackness. Blackness that was engulfing her, and she was sinking...
Then light. morphing light.
Her eyes widened, she'd mistakenly gasp. She tried to reach him, hoping that if she could just... just get him to wake up. Maybe together they both could escape the imminent. But it's too late. It was always too late.
He's limp, lifeless. Dead.
"Sunstorm..." A quiet, hoarse voice, sounding unusually like her own, choked out a single word, and instantly the marble awoke with a start, amber eyes shooting open, and breath coming out in tattered, hoarse gasps.
For a moment, just a brief one, a frigid, frightening air seemed to encompass her. Where was she? She was laying in something small and only slightly prickly. The warrior's den? She paused ...Her nest? A lull, hapless air had filtered in.
The sun, a vivid orange color, was glowing, the last of its soft, vibrant rays streaming across the sky in a brilliant array of pinks, oranges and blues. It was a sort of warm, the sun's rich beams tinting the surface of the smooth rocks with clinquant pastels that could make any cat stop and gape.
Her ears swiveled, taking in the sounds of day as her bleary, sleep-clouded eyes blinked slowly, letting the rest of the world in. Her eyelids were heavy, and felt as though they were ready to fall shut - demanding rest. Her throat felt sore and scratchy, the fur on her cheeks damp with tears. Which meant that her eyes were probably red and puffy; she could feel the moisture and fatigue. A shudder gently roused her; perhaps she cried herself to sleep again. She didn't know.
She sank, pressed down by both a physical and mental exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to seep into her soul.
The rest of her fur... It looked dull, and crudely matted, making her lack of keeping herself groomed for the last few days apparent. A deep sigh escaped her. She didn't notice until now how battered she was - her legs roared and ached, her body felt beaten and worn. She could only imagine how horrible she looked.
She let a worn sigh escape from within her, mind flickering in and out as she slowly began to fall back into sleep. She, absentmindedly, licked the back of her paw and started to bring it up to her face, but froze. Suddenly the urge to deride it cut her short. Her paw fell, eyes glistening. Sunstorm.
Instantly reality slammed into the marble full force. Her heart dropped to the pit of her stomach, her face fell. In that instant, nothing else mattered. Her unkept fur, her fatigue, nothing seemed perceptible over the pulsating blood in her ears. Just him.
...And he was gone. She swallowed, a painful lump forming in her throat. Sunstorm was really gone. It had been days since the loss of her best friend, and ever since she had fallen into a descending coil. Her eyes melted into wide amber pools brimming with emotions as tears began to race down her cheeks, waves of stifling emotions she had felt just moments before she slept beginning to choke her. Confusion, fear, sorrow... all woven together in such a way that the pain of it all twisted into an unbearable coil in her chest. She wanted nothing more than to rid herself of it. It had made her sick. But then there was him. Starclan, there was him. Her best friend, her world, nearly every happy recollection in those auroral, golden eyes. Gone.
No more nights in Skyclan, no more visiting each other, no more seeing each other at gatherings, no more snuggling with him when she had the chance. No more looking into those huge, golden, happy eyes, or hearing his chirpy voice, or pressing against him. He was everything to her. He had meant everything to her. He was her world, her joy— his personality rivaled the brightness of his fur, so intense that it clashed and, as a result, created something perfect, and wonderful. And that had been taken from her. He was gone... He was really, actually gone. Forever. Sunstorm was never coming back.
She felt her heart crumble in her chest, the lump in her throat throbbing, until she faltered, unable to choke back a sudden sob that instantly wracked her entire frame.
Only yesterday, it had seemed that they were invincible. Running through the nooks and crannies of Skyclan, getting their fur topped with its dust. They were two inseverable friends rolling in the pristine, dusty snowbanks in Snowclan.
She'd tried to restrain it, tried to get rid of that lump in her throat, for days she had tried to cast it aside, and she had failed. And failed, and failed to the point where she fell asleep, forgetting it all, and woke up - the news hitting her worst than it did before. Nothing was more harder than this. Nothing could've prepared her for this.
Her eyes shut tight, face contorting as the floodgates reopened, washing over her; swallowing her down in her own, throttling emotions. She Inhaled shakily, trying hard to regain composure. But she... she just couldn't. One by one, no, more than that, the tears collapsed from her eyes, rolling ceaselessly down her cheeks and onto her paws as her heart fragmented and chipped. Even his laugh, she would never, ever get to hear again.
She jumped, looking over her shoulder, but relaxed when she recognized that it was Saplingtail. The medicine cat sat down besides her, a thick rabbit trapped in her jaws before she had placed it down in front of her. Looking down at the plump thing, she realized with revolt that she wasn't hungry. The medicine cat's ice-like eyes flashed with worry.
"...What's the matter? Are you hurt?" Uncomfortably, she had begun to sniff as her cluttered fur.
Sablefur turned away, an inescapable shudder finding her. She knew that her silencing appearance wasn't what Saplingtail was asking about and she was even more positive that the brown she-cat knew the same. As clear as day, the medicine cat saw her tears, saw the redness around her eyes. She probably seen her when she ran into the Warrior's den. But what could she say? That she was in love with a Fireclan warrior but he died? ... She could tell her that her friend had died... or would the medicine cat reprimand her on making friends with cats not of her own clan? No. She couldn't know. No one could know. Weighing on whether or not to lie and say she was fine, and only that, she continued wiping her tears away. But she said nothing.
After a while, the brown she-cat sighed, her voice abdicate, "I won't bother you about it, okay?" Then pressingly— motioning to the rabbit before her— she said, "You need to eat this though."
Honestly, she wasn't that hungry. Not to the point that she absolutely needed it.
The marble's voice had come out worn, and unintendedly harsh, "... I'm sure there are others who need it more than I do." Again she turned, resting her head on her paws, and anticipated the gentle scrape of Saplingtail's pawpads as she made her way back to the entrance to leave. She bit her lip, wanting to suppress the impending tears for fear the medicine cat may return. She didn't want any company, she wanted to be left alone. But a presence was still very distinguishable. Saplingtail's presence. She was still there. And so was the rabbit.
Sablefur spun once more, catching the brown she-cat's vexed blue gaze trained on her.
...Was it her pelt? Her fur was all matted and absolutely messy, she was aware... It must've looked awful. Still...
"I'm fine." Sablefur's drained voice rang softly.
But the medicine cat shook her head. What was it then? "I'm sure you are," she spoke slowly, as if she was half-fixed in a trance. Then suddenly, "The thing is though—"
"There you are, Saplingtail!" Peachpaw's voice resonated through the walls of the warrior's den as she poked her head in, "We're 'outta feverfew... Mousedung! I could've sworn we really stocked u— " She paused, verdant eyes switching from Saplingtail to Sablefur and then back again. Her words formed slowly, hesitation clear in her voice, "Is...Is she hurt? She's not hurt is she?"
Saplingtail shook her head again. "She isn't, no." She answered curtly, "Peachpaw, if you could go fetch some more feverfew for me.. " Then she turned and once again her icy gaze was back on Sablefur.
"Sablefur," She spoke.
- - -
At first Sablefur stood there, shocked; suddenly deaf, suddenly feeling her heart beating slowly in her chest as time seemed to halt. She swallowed once more, her heart feeling as though it had taken up residence in her chest. For a few heartbeats she just blinked at the medicine cat, not quite registering the words that had just been spoken. She was... There were..? Kits?
"What..?" Her voice was hoarse. Then quieter she mewed, "I.. I'm..?" her voice a hushed whisper as her verdant, once grief-struck gaze flashed with alarm, anxiety beginning to prickle its way to her as everything began to settle in. She was..? Starclan, she was really..? But then that would mean..!
"No..." She meowed tersely, horribly hesitant in her step. " No, Starclan no... please no..." Ice cold fear had shot through her veins. And not for herself. If they found out, if they knew..? She could hear her clan-mates questioning her on who her mate was, or where he was. What then?
"Sablefur?" She felt her heart skip a beat when Saplingtail's voice rung out.
"Don't— Just..! Just leave." The words were hesitant, fraught. She couldn't allow her to ask about Sunstorm, couldn't give her the chance. She compelled herself to stare aside, her paws compressing their hold on the ground, legs rigid. She was falling apart. She was really, actually falling apart. And Saplingtail was still there. Watching her as she did so. Starclan, why wasn't she gone?
She opened her mouth to attempt one last desperate, quiet plea for her to leave, but it was so listless her voice sounded more like a dwarfed gasp. She sighed. This wasn't her fault. None of this was her fault. It was hers, she knew that. Starclan, she was just... A nearly inaudible apology left her lips. "I just need to be alone."
"That's.. fine," the medicine cat responded tentatively, her words stretching slightly, "But you should really take this easy— your kits depend on you now."
And she left.
- - -
She hadn't even noticed it, not until Saplingtail told her. Her stomach was slightly plump - not very arresting to any cat other than herself, but still most definitely there. A deep sigh escaped the marble's throat. She was ready... Wasn't she?
She sank, desperate, panicking, and worried beyond measure. All the sense of hope had left her feeling just that: hopeless.
They'd know. The thought struck her hard, and merciless. She had no way of answering it, and in that silent moment, they'd know. They'd figure it out. There was no running away, no hiding it. Once the question was out, well...
Even in sleep, the restless fear refused to leave her. It clung to her consciousness like a burr, constantly reminding her of its presence until she felt sick to her stomach. What would happen to her? Her kits? And if it were to be revealed, she was sure that it would, would her kits have to walk around the camp, detested, undesirable? ...Would Echostar make them leave? And how would they react to her, once they found out that their father belong to Fireclan? That their suffering was all because of them? Would they hate her? Would they hate Sunstorm? Would they... want nothing to do with them? Or, what if—
—No. No. This stress was not good for her. Not for the kits.
A sigh escaped from her muzzle, and she paused in her pacing, for a moment allowing her amber gaze to travel down to her slightly swollen belly. They... mattered the most. They were connected. Their emotions, functions— everything. Everything was tied. If she chipped, they would too, but if she were to break... No. She couldn't lose them, couldn't afford to lose them - not like she'd lost Sunstorm. And he was everything to her. Her best friend, her world, she had loved him above anything— anyone — else, and right now, she wanted nothing more than for him to press up against her again, and hear his soft purr. Tell her that everything was going to be fine. But he was gone.
And she was pregnant. Alone. Alone.
The task wasn't easy. Acceptance. She didn't want to accept it, to just simply drop everything and abscond through life as if nothing had transpired. Her paws had tripped over the merciless roots of moving on, and she couldn't... At least it was hard to. All of those wonderful moments left behind? She just... It felt impossible.
Your kits depend on you now.
Saplingtail's words still echoed in her ears. Words that were enough to make Sablefur feel as though she'd just been struck by a particularly vulgar paw. It had stung like thrashing thorns, snipping at her fur, dragging her until she simply wanted to lie down, close her eyes, and forget everything. But... it was true. A resign sigh escaped her maw as she gently nodded to herself. She was pregnant— a queen now— she had to get a hold of herself. And... she was right.
She sighed shakily, saffron gaze falling into a close. She knew that she was right. This stress, this berating strain, twirling viciously in her heart would damage her. Then it would slither its poisonous way to her kits and... no, she couldn't let that happen.
As much as she hated the thought of accepting it, of... leaving behind those joyous memories, erasing everything to extinguish the pain, and then letting it tumble down into oblivion— Move on —She had to.
It was hard to help, but she had to try. She was a wreck. Upset. Worried. But she couldn't be. Sablefur took a deep breath, feeling her lungs expand until she could no longer inhale. She felt the frigid air well inside of her for a moment before releasing it in a spew of thin condensation, her nerves hesitantly steady once more.
A sad smile fluttered on her lips as memories, both warm and unpleasant, rose. Are you there, Sunstorm? For a moment she stayed silent, as if waiting for a response. A response that never came. It never did. But still she tried. She wanted nothing more than to hear his voice again, wanted nothing more than to tell him that she'd never forget him. She knew in her hearts of hearts that she wouldn't ever forget Sunstorm. Not him, nor all the beautiful memories. Not the time they'd spent rolling in snow flurries, not the time she'd eaten that fish, nor the warmth she felt pressed up against him. Not the feelings she had, together with him, that nothing could ever go wrong... After all that? She could never possibly forget.
And now kits. She was fractured, but perhaps... perhaps this was the first step to something greater. A heal. Her once grief-stricken gaze softened, warmth flashing in her eyes before she closed her them shut once more. Sunstorm would've loved it. She was sure he would. He'd be surprised as first, sure, but she knew that, without a doubt, he'd be so... happy. Starclan, if only he were still here. She'd tell him, without a worry in her heart and in that instant, nothing else would matter. She swallowed, feeling an ache in her heart set in, and a lump, once more, beginning to well in her throat. He wouldn't even get to see them...
"Sunstorm..." She managed to squeak out, her voice hoarse from the tears she had spilt. She stood— her head hung and a tear hanging delicately from her chin— incarcerated by a mixture of sorrow and resign engulfing her like flames. Nothing could have prepared her enough. She wished, with all that she was, that none of this had to happen.
Or at least, that she had more time.
She knew, in her heart, that she wouldn't've done anything differently. She couldn't regret meeting Sunstorm; she wouldn't take back a single moment of the time they'd spent together.
She'd lost someone, but for the sake of their kits, she could not dwell on it.