Warrior Cat Clans 2 (WCC2 aka Classic) is a roleplay site inspired by the Warrior series by Erin Hunter. Whether you are a fan of the books or new to the Warrior cats world, WCC2 offers a diverse environment with over a decade’s worth of lore for you - and your characters - to explore. Join us today and become a part of our ongoing story!
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The minutes after the League patrol left with their stolen kits were long, heavy, silent things. Kier lay unmoving on the cold wet ground; Bermondsey’s concubine had assumed she’d done enough to take a life, but she hadn’t quite. His breathing was ragged and shallow and he could feel that one of his ribs was broken, but he was alive. He just had to lie there for a little while before he could get up; right now, the only thing that didn’t feel impossibly nauseous or impossibly painful was lying in silence with his eyes closed, breathing through his nose with an unbearably acute sort of awareness, of consciousness. He wished he would slip under — then at least he’d get some rest. As it was, he could feel his own blood, cooled from burning heat by the cold, soggy breeze, seeping into his fur and making him shiver; he could feel the waterlogged ground hard under his side, no less wet now that the rain had eased to erratic drips from the canopy; he could feel his own slowing heartbeat as it settled into an empty sort of post-survival calm, each breath pressing up against his broken rib. Every time it did, he’d make a tiny little sound in his closed mouth, a wincing sort of grunt. The night was damp and quiet and endless, disturbed by the faint rustle of birds; it felt almost awkward. At any other time, he might have cried. Right now, though, he was feeling too many conflicting emotions for Eris to waste time on his own pain — though her involvement in that pain was a great source of some of the emotion. He hadn’t spoken to her since the League had left; he hadn’t really spoken to her directly during, either. KILL THEM, he’d shrieked, KILL THEM ALL — because anything had been on the table of violence and iniquity to shield Eris from her own mistakes. He’d just done what he had to do to deflect blame away from her and protect her.
But now that she was safe, he was annoyed. He was worse than annoyed — he was angry. For the first time in their relationship, he was angry with her. Not the shouting sort of angry, either; the let’s just agree it would be best not to talk to me right now anger. He was deliriously relieved that she was alright; he was hideously frustrated with her. Both could be true at the same time. He felt betrayed; he felt out of the loop; he felt so unspeakably bewildered by her actions that he couldn’t stomach looking at her. He knew she was still somewhere behind him, kept safe while the two patrols fought. He could hear the occasional, faint shuffle of her paws. But he didn’t speak to her. He just lay there, breathing painfully, still and silent with a very clear don’t speak to me right now, Eris undertone. He’d yell at her later, and then he’d forgive her — because it wasn’t really anger at all; it was concern that had twisted itself in its panic into terrified rage. He would come down from it. But right now, for the first time, with his eyes closed and his chest rising and falling with fitful slowness, Kier gave his mate the cold shoulder.
His cold, silent anger irritated her. Eris knew he was right to be upset, that he was correct to feel betrayed, but she hated to admit it because she wanted to be right, desperately she wanted to feel as though it was worth it. But it wasn't. The kits were whisked away, Kier had almost lost a life, and now they sat in tense, uncomfortable silence, one only broken by birds and raindrops from the now-passed storm, though her heart seemed impossibly loud in her own ears, beating against her rib-cage like it were looking for an escape, pounding angry and guilty and self-righteous all at once. It wasn't her who was crumpled on the floor, bleeding and bruised and beaten; no, she had been protected, shielded from consequence by Kier taking her fall, and she ought to have been grateful, she should have thanked him, but her stubbornness won out, and her anger remained. She stayed silent, watching from afar as his chest shuddered with his breaths from where he lay on the floor. His cold shoulder stung, but she didn't move to break it, not yet. She only gave him quick, pointed glances, averting her eyes otherwise, letting the quiet choke them. She'd ran off, she kept things from him, she hid away and didn't tell him where or why, and she knew there was only herself to blame, but her anger spilled from where it had been festering inside her, directing itself at the clearest target that wasn't herself — she didn't want to shoulder it, she needed someone to take it for her.
The silence got overwhelming as Eris steeped in her rage, until finally she opened her mouth to say something. She faltered, mouth closing with a harsh snap, mind fumbling to come up with something, anything, to stop the ringing in her ears and the pumping of her chest, "that wasn't supposed to happen," she settled for instead, a way to lift the blame off both of their shoulders, a way to minimize. "What, you can't stay quiet forever!" She snapped, fitfully pacing left and right, tail lashing behind her. "You —" her voice bordered on hysteric, "youweren't supposed to come here. They weren't supposed to come here. It's not my fault they — you — did." She was digging herself into a pit, she knew, offering a senseless, angry explanation, as if it would mend the situation — Kier was always so forgiving of her the things she did, no matter how needless, how unpredictable, how baseless, and she expected the same grace now, that he would turn around with a doting smile and limp towards her, battered but understanding, hurt but forgiving. But he had never taken so long before, he had never been so quiet in the face of her misdeeds, and she felt anxiety wriggle in her stomach at the sight of him. Her breath shuddered after she spoke, quick, like she couldn't gather enough air, and she felt the need to continue, but she couldn't conjure up the right words. They swarmed messily in her head, just as senseless as she felt, just as senseless as she had been. The silence settled again.
Kier could feel the heaviness of her attention lurking behind him, could feel the way the way the air seemed to suck itself towards her and hold it there; he knew she was warring over whether or not to speak, knew it would be a feat if her guilt won out over her stubbornness. He’d never known it to happen in all the time they’d been together; he was always the one who had to apologise and make it up to her after any little gripe or snipe, even if she had been at fault, and if she didn’t speak now, he foresaw a lengthy few weeks of silence between them until he finally broke. Right now, that idea didn’t break him down like it usually did, didn’t melt away his annoyance — it strengthened it. She didn’t have any right to make herself the victim, not now. Eris was stubborn; Kier was stubborn, too. He just rarely got the opportunity to be so with her, what with having to be the bigger person; such was the penance of taking for a mate someone so wilfully childish, but he loved her. Loved it. Loved it to distraction. Worshipped the ground she walked on. He could have this moment of anger. Except he knew he couldn’t, because if he never caved and Eris never came crawling over with an apology, then what would their marriage be? They’d live it in silence. He knew he would give in. And that only made these minutes of cold, quiet anger that much more potent; he clung to them with a stubborn entitlement and an exhausted weariness.
That wasn’t supposed to happen. Kier finally broke his silence — he scoffed. Such a quiet, doubtful sound. Eyes still closed, still unmoving. Now his silence took on a tense, insincere quality; it was clear he was listening, that his eyes were still closed just because he was pretending not to be. And then she began to shout at him. Kier growled to himself, tail-tip tapping ominously against the wet ground as he felt the tremours of her angry stomps disturb the post-storm peace. The fur on the back of his neck began to prickle up as he lay there, and it was all rather childish — Kier was still lying there like he was clinging to the peace he was owed, Eris was disturbing that peace, and both were growing more and more irrational. Finally, he tore together the strength to push himself up and snap around, still half-lying on the wet earth, twisted to face her; his whole right side was caked with mud and blood. “Oh, excuse me,” he snapped back at her. “Excuse me, Eris, for interfering with your carefully crafted plan — I should have made a reservation. Yes, I should have RSVPed — it was so rude of me to come traipsing into my territory when you clearly had things so wonderfully under control.” It’s not my fault they — you — did. Kier almost sputtered with disbelief, so frantic with indignation that he suddenly had the strength to push himself up properly, broken rib forgotten. This was their first proper fight. Born out of fear and confusion and an inability to accept blame on both sides. “Not your fault? Not your— Eris, you couldn’t have predicted this? You couldn’t have predicted that Moonblight, who knows this territory a thousand times better than you do, might not be able to guess where you had hidden them? That Laertes, as dear as he is to me, might not turn his coat to help his sisters? Did none of these things cross your mind?” It was so hard being the thinker all the time, the one with the head full of plans and contingencies and escape routes and numbers; he felt exhausted just saying it all aloud. “You heard the reports — you knew you were taking your life into your claws when you decided to play a game of 50/50 chance between me being the first to find you and them.” And what a desperate chase, a frantic, rain-lashed search it had been. And still you did it, he almost added, if he had trusted himself not to cry, had trusted the words not to shatter into the confused tears of a child. Knowing what it would do to him if something happened to her, she still did it — but he knew she didn’t think like that; she was invincible, she was the one she thought about, and he was the one left fretting.
His voice had cracked under the weight of his emotion, his relief; for a second, as he stood there facing her, his frown becoming so desperately pleading like he was realising again that she really was alright and he really had found her before anything could happen, he wanted to relent and go to her. But he didn’t. He forced himself not to. Eris didn’t take well to scoldings, she’d just buckle down and get angry and storm off like she didn’t care about you at all — but this time, oh, this time he couldn’t dote and apologise. She could be so bullheadedly fearless, so belligerent, like she was as tall as the sky and made of armies and not a little, rasping runt — it was part of what made him so infatuated with her, so in awe of her, so in love with her, that bullish arrogance like she hardly even cared about him. Like he was just a mite to her. It thrilled him, kept him as constantly on edge and shivering as it kept him comforted. But, oh, now it terrified him too. She’d already antagonised Kate; she had to learn, had to learn that one day her luck might run out. The thought sent such a thrill of cold terror, of pre-emptive grief, through him that it was easy to fuel the next wave of displaced anger — he wasn’t angry at her; he was terrified. He knew that in all likelihood he would outlive her — and he would spend his life denying fate and pushing back the clock and covering his ears. He would spend his life clinging to her. It was a tragedy he could already see the end of, and it broke him.
“We took their KITS, Eris,” he hissed, slow, like she was stupid, desperate to drive it home to her but also just furiously angry with her idiocy. For the first time, his near-mocking nastiness turned on her — they were both so cruel, it was only right that it turned on each other occasionally. But it dissipated back to exhaustion in a second — exhaustion because everything he’d done had been for nothing. “Of course they were going to come for them. They were going to come to camp — THAT’S why I was keeping them there, so that when Bermondsey — and yes, I’ll bloody well say his blasted name, your sensibilities be damned — inevitably came looking, they’d meet a camp and we could kill him — not just US. Alone. In the middle of the woods.” Kier’s voice was louder now, slightly cracked by the despair of the situation and of the failure, and in the endless, hovering silence, his words punctuated like cracks of a dismal, dreary whip. From ‘alone’ on, he sounded almost plaintive, keening, like it was such a lonely thing. “There was no use in hiding them, Eris — the point was for them to be FOUND.” He suddenly sat — slumped, his legs buckling and the pain in his rib that had been forgotten suddenly flaring back to life — touching his paw to his head and bowing it, eyes closing like he had a headache. He was so close to just giving up. He almost wanted to relent and say it was my own fault for not keeping you better informed, but he refused to — he wasn’t going to give into her. Now the League blamed him for something that wasn’t his fault; that was part of being a husband. He absorbed her sins as his own, took the blame so she didn’t have to, so she could melt into the shadows and he was the one in the guilty, glaring spotlight despite any innocence. That was fine. But it was still irritating. Supremely irritating that he didn’t even understand WHY he now had this extra bounty on his back — he was in complete ignorance about this, and yet he was the supposed mastermind. It was that confusion that fuelled his frustrated, uncomprehending anger with her.
And as he sat there, as he rubbed over his eyes with his shaking paw, as he felt the full weight of all his physical pain, as the fact that she was alive, she was alright, truly sank in, the anger turned to rage. Because he couldn’t get this relief out through affection so he had to channel it into hysteria right back at her — he had to scream because he couldn’t cry. When he dropped his paw and looked up, his anger was burned over his face. And then he was screaming at her, pushing himself up again, lashing his tail just as she had, pacing as best he could with a broken rib screeching fire at her. “AFTER ALL THAT HAPPENED,” he shrieked at her, and it was the first time in history — save for the hysteria the night of the miscarriage — that the world heard Kier raise his voice to his mate. “YOU PUT YOURSELF IN DANGER. WITHOUT TELLING ME. WITHOUT EVEN SAYING GOODBYE. WHAT IF I HAD TO HEAR, ERIS, SECONDHAND, THAT MY MATE WAS DEAD? THAT MY BEST FRIEND IN THE WORLD WAS DEAD? HM? DID YOU EVER THINK OF THAT IN YOUR SELFISH HEAD? I LOVE YOU. I NEED YOU. AND YOU JUST LEFT ME. SOMETIMES, ERIS, YOU ARE SO UNCONSCIONABLY SELF-CENTRED — WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE A TEAM.” He was hysterical with fear, with rage — hysterical with relief that she was alive. He didn’t care about the League. There was only Eris. There was only ever Eris. He took a step towards her, one paw further ahead on the ground and a feeling of such emptiness in his chest at how easily everything could have been different, how easily everything could have gone wrong, staring into her eyes like he was pleading with her to explain herself to him. The anger stripped itself from his voice like bruised flesh, leaving it raw. Leaving only desperate eyes behind.
His voice, dripping with anger, grief, venom, was met with stone-faced silence, and there was something withering, furious, in Eris' expression, but it didn't hold the same fire that Kier did. She knew she was wrong, she knew this wasn't a fight she could win, but she didn't say a word on her own doubts — she stood her ground, infuriatingly bold and obstinate. His sarcasm was met with a curl of her lip, scar making it all the more brutish, and she almost nodded, and wouldn't have that been silly? To nod in agreement to his very clear mocking. But she stayed stock-still aside from the twisting of her expression and the angry lashing of her tail, aside from the slight, constant tremble in her limbs. Not your— Eris, you couldn’t have predicted this? She could have, but she didn't, she hadn't been thinking of anything outside of her and the kits, those kits, she couldn't have possibly assumed anyone would have interfered, she refused to think of the possibility. That Laertes, as dear as he is to me, might not turn his coat to help his sisters? At that, Eris scoffed, "I thought you'd have beaten out silly things like that." It was a cruel thing to say; she knew how much Laertes meant to him, how he hated to hurt him, to see him hurt, but she wanted to stoop low, to sting. "Clearly you didn't do a good enough job."
We took their KITS, Eris. She sat down, finally, as if all her energy had been depleted but she wanted to keep the pretense up, and turned her head towards the far wall, eyes narrowed. His explanation made perfect, logical sense, she couldn't see how hers was anything other than stupid, but she looked indignant all the same, ears twitching in annoyance. Then, she shot him a glare, "they took mine. They're lucky we onlyhid them." She refused to show that she understood his logic, and she would have refused a reaction altogether, stuck with cold, dismissive cruelty, had her temper not been astronomically high, had she been more in control of her flooding emotions. Everything he said made her feel smaller and smaller, more idiotic, someone lesser, and she despised it — it only served to fuel her temperament, to make her more viscious, more desperate to return back to the status quo that was her above him, him devoted to her. It felt wrong, for him to be so terribly angry with her, to be annoyed, to be so outspoken against her even though she knew he loved her still, because then she knew something wasn't right, that she truly was unreasonable. He was so devout to her, he took her falls, he took every brunt as a result of her actions, and, deep down, she was grateful, but in the moment, having it all thrown back in her face, she felt nothing but anger.
Then, he was yelling, and she snapped to look at him again, eyes wide and fiery, mouth slightly agape as though she wanted to interrupt, but she let him go on. Where she sat, she seethed and burned, trying to let the words pass over her instead of sink in, sharp and irate. YOU PUT YOURSELF IN DANGER. She tried to be nonchalant about it, she tried to gloss over it, but her ears flattened against her will, her eyes drifted past him, to his paws instead of his face. She looked all like a guilty child, and that was all she felt, too. Just as it felt wrong that he was against her, a deeper, younger part of her felt like it was wrong to have him care so much, like she didn't deserve it.
What were you THINKING, Eris?
What had she been thinking? Well, she supposed she hadn't been, that was the whole ordeal — she was unreasonable, she wasn't thinking, she wasn't sure what she was doing other than following a half-thought out whim driven by pettiness and fear. Now though, despite the overwhelming tidal wave of her emotions, she could think, and she did. Her mind went over every possible, surface thing she could think of — anger, bitterness, simple revenge — but none of them truly clicked, and then she recalled the begrudging, secretive conversation with Twilightdance, how she'd called the medicine-cat into her den at the signs of a familiar, morning-tied illness, both knowing exactly what it meant. Kits. No congratulations, no cheers, just a simple, stated fact. Eris had shooed Twilightdance away coldly with a warning not to say a word, and she had promptly tried to think of any other rational sickness it may be, even though her mind could not conjure up anything else. It was terrifying, she refused to accept she would replace her lost kits, and so she said not a word on the subject. It made sense now, why she'd been so irrational — she felt out of control since the news; she wanted it back. She couldn't stand the thought of new kits, the fear that came with it, the thoughts of what happened if she lost them, and the kidnapped kits had only been a distraction. Take them, hide them, focus only on them, on how angry they made her feel, because she couldn't be helpless when she had to be an intimidating captor.
Her anger faded, her tail stilled, and she gave Kier a suddenly, starkly drawn look, a fearful one, eyes averting almost instantly. "I wasn't," she finally admitted, voice breathless. She paused again. "There's. . . new kits — I'm. . ." Eris didn't need to finish the sentence to get her point across, and something shameful flooded her, like it was her fault, like she wasn't supposed to have them. "And — I don't know. I suppose I wasn't. . . thinking. I was trying not to."
I thought you'd have beaten out silly things like that. Kier’s lips pulled back in a silent, quivering snarl, the tentative one that a lion had over a kill. Clearly you didn't do a good enough job. “Yes, insult me, Eris — you’re very good at that.” And it was true — the insults rolled off him, they had to; he knew she was rarely physically affectionate, let alone verbally, knew the signs of her love for him were subtle, silent, unspectacular things: she let him hang around, she backed up his opinions and stroked his ego and badmouthed the people he ranted to her about, she came home to him each night. And, really, most of the time he found it tremendously funny — her insults, her belittling. He loved it, lapped it up. Now, though, standing there with a broken rib, with her turning her own inability to accept responsibility into stinging slights at him — like he didn’t have feelings, or like she knew he’d take it because he always did… He suddenly felt a year’s worth of hurt. Because once in a while he just wanted to be told he was loved.
If her anger strengthened, his hurt did — he still paced, he still shouted, but now he was just trying to get through to her; not to make her see sense, but to make her see that he was hurt. He kept throwing her glances as he limped back and forth, kept trying to look at her and see if her ice was cracking; but every time all he saw was a set jaw and a turned away head and a stubbornness that defied even love. They took mine. And that was the final blow. “They were mine too, Eris,” Kier cried, turning and stopping to stare at her plaintively — and it was broken. So youthfully, pitifully desperate. So hurt. Part of him was still so terrified that she blamed him for Kate, for it having been his sister that ruined her, like he was at fault because it had been his own blood, his family, who had taken them from her. He never let himself be selfish enough to say from them, because making sure Eris was alright, making sure her mind was kept together, making sure she stayed alive — those were the priorities. His own right to grief always fell by the wayside, and in a way he felt she thought he didn't have the right to feel it. He was responsible because Kate was responsible, and he took on his sister's sin just as he now took on his mate's. He worried so sickly that Eris held him to blame, that it would fester and rot and grow until one day she left him, and he never had the bravery, the courage, to ask her and have his fears confirmed — or worse, to plant the idea in her mind and watch her feelings towards him slowly twist and change until she resented him because he had told her she should.
Now, though, he felt it all. All that old grief. All that hurt wailing just below the surface, the hurt that had never really healed, never had the chance to.
The anger came back — the anger always came back — and it helped to mask some of the vulnerability, helped to cloud it in red. His tail lashed again as he took back up his pacing, his shouting. He grew angry with her again — because if she was angry with him, he was sure as hell going to be angry with her. He could do that, too. He could be as immature and hateful and furious and stubborn. He could shroud himself in it just the same, even if it was an insincere response, an attention-seeking fakery, to her own anger. He fed himself indignation to get his protective rage back up, to stoke it. He paced, and lashed his tail, and felt the burn in his ribcage.
Eris was SPOILED, that was the problem — he had spoiled her and now she had no sense of consequence, of outcomes that didn’t suit her delusions, of righteous anger with her, of—
There’s. . . new kits.
Kier stopped, turning his head to look at her. She kept on talking but he didn’t hear her. He didn’t hear anything. He just stood there, trying to comprehend those brief words she seemed to make nothing of, seemed to gloss over like they were an irrelevant part of the story. New kits. Kier’s eyes were locked on her as she talked, but he took nothing in — not the dripping rain, not her voice, not the distant roll of thunder as the storm passed out of the valley. All his anger had faded, and there was no name for what took its place — because it wasn’t anything. It was complete numbness — not because something was wrong, but because he was completely uncomprehending. Everything was empty because everything was confused, and there were no words for that. His mind had ground to a stop; his expression had turned to the faintest of frowns, and as the moments passed, a terrible feeling began to creep in, a terrible feeling that he didn’t dare entertain. Hope.
Finally, unaware of anything she’d been saying, he interrupted her. “What do you mean, new kits?” His voice was nothing like it had been a minute ago — there was no anger, there was no hurt, there wasn’t much of anything, because he wouldn’t let there be. It was incredibly quiet. He sounded like a doctor asking a follow up question, except for the faintest tremour, the faintest betrayal of his emotions, the faintest fear — because he hadn’t actually let himself think the words yet, hadn’t let himself think what she might have meant in case the crushing disappointment, the grief, took him over if he was wrong. Kier took the smallest step forward, eyes still not leaving hers; they didn’t stray because he didn’t let them, because he was so terrified that if he dared the briefest glance at her stomach in a silent question, this fragile, tenuous maybe would be shattered entirely, and any budding life would die, and it would have been his fault — his fault for asking the question directly, for daring to think it. He didn’t even know how he felt about it because he wasn’t letting himself think what it was. There was nothing. He couldn’t dare let there be the hope of anything. “You don’t…” He took another quivering step forward, head bowed submissively like she was going to attack him, voice so quiet, so afraid. His voice was breathy. “You aren’t…” He couldn’t say it; if he did, all this fear would rupture and he’d burst into tears from the sheer overwhelmed panic of hearing the terrifying hope confirmed. Those half words would have to be question enough. They were already too close to tearing him apart if he was wrong.
They were mine too, Eris. She looked to her paws. Eris had gotten very good at ignoring that fact, that they were his as well, that they had lost those kits together. Perhaps, if she had just allowed them to grieve together instead of apart, she wouldn't have fallen so hard, she wouldn't have been so driven into her mind, so irrational. She was hit by the realization that, had she let it, the two of them could have sought comfort in each other and none of this would have happened. Instead, she had built walls, kept him out, locked herself behind stone-coldness and delusion. They were his too, she bristled at the thought, but they grieved separately. She didn't turn to look at him — she didn't think she could without her facade falling, without losing the frigid anger she was trying to display, so she settled with tracing the cracks and grooves of the wall, the only indication she was listening being the tilt of her ears in his direction.
What do you mean, new kits? She curled her lip, a gesture torn between exasperation and annoyance and grief, because she didn't want to admit it twice, she didn't want to explain — she wanted to let it simmer, she wanted to forget about it, she wanted to go home and curl up with him and forget they had ever fought; she wanted normalcy. But she had ruined any semblance of that. The sneer fell, replaced with an uncharacteristically anxious look, and she pressed her teeth into her bottom lip, mulling over what words she could possibly use that would make sense. There were a million different things on her mind, a whirlwind of nonsense and confusion and every terrible emotion she had felt in the past day. There were new kits. She didn't want them, she needed them, she couldn't possibly have them, she couldn't wait to see them, it was terrifying, it was wonderful.
Eris settled on a nod, small and unsure, scared. Neither of them could bring themselves to say it, not yet, not when the fear of it was so strong. She didn't explain how or when, she didn't do anything other than sit down, shoulders hunched and legs feeling too weak to keep her upright, and she finally gave in. She seemed dazed, as if she were told the news instead of having done the telling, as if she hadn't known for days. Last time, there had been excitement, cheer, the uneasiness of a new parent that was always mixed with overwhelming joy, but there was none of that now. It felt hopeless, desolate, sad. It was quiet, there was no celebration, there was no indication that she had just announced a pregnancy at all, and she couldn't help but, somehow, feel guilty about that too — who was she, to deny these kits joy when she found out? Could they feel her grief over them now? When she met them, would she be able to look at them? Would she ever bring up their older siblings that never got to meet them?
She lay down further, legs folded, paws tucked around one another, looking very much like Kier had before he got up, and for a long, silent moment she stared at the ground, eyes searching it like she would find answers. "I don't know what to do," she breathed, eyes scrunching, and her voice had a certain tight, wet sound to it, forcing it around a lump in her throat. She looked up at him, shaking, eyes tearful, "what do we even do? What if —" she cut herself off, not bothering to push her tears down, not bothering to hide it because she wasn't sure she could, even if she tried — it was so strong, a tidal wave of uncontrollable emotion, so unlike anything she ever let herself experience because this was the kind of thing she hated to feel, it was the type of thing she kept down because it didn't follow the logic she built herself on, it didn't make sense to her. Her tears hit her paws with a soft, gentle drip.
absolute novella, i'm sorry my love but i was EMOTIONAL
As soon as Eris confirmed it with her nod, Kier let out a shaky breath, his shoulders drooping like he was letting go of all his terror, or like he was feeling the whole world settle upon them — and it was the most wonderful thing in the world. The tremour in his breath sounded reverent — of Eris, of these kits, of life. While she drowned in her terror, in her guilt, everything good and holy flooded into him — the joy he’d been too afraid to feel, the love. He was much as much of an optimist as it was possible to be, it was the only reason he’d managed to get this far in life, by believing in himself to ludicrous extents — and, oh, in that moment, there was nothing that could go wrong, nothing that could ever be bad; she was fretting and he was choosing nursery colours in his head. Immediately, he moved to go to her — and he caught her just as she was sinking to the ground, slipping behind her and tucking himself slightly under, so the bottoms of her forelegs folded over the tops of his and he was supporting most of her weight. He always would. He always was. She was never too much for him. “Don’t know what to do?” he whispered, so gentle, so disbelieving, laid out along her back with his soft, damp belly fur melting into her spine. He supported the weight of her head just as much as he did everything else, taking it for her so she didn’t have to; he brushed his cheek against hers from behind, letting her rest against him. “Mousey, we raise our kits.” His whisper held all the warmth of rose gold, all the fragile, stable love.
He felt the heat of her tears slipping down his own cheek, darkening rivulets in the black and warming his skin. Kier had never seen Eris cry — never, not once. Not the night she’d miscarried their kits; not the night she’d told him with such frantic insistence that they had been taken; not the night she’d begged him to cry so she didn’t have to. She’d seen him cry plenty — Kier cried a surprising amount, enough for the both of them. And to see her do it now… To feel the wet warmth of it… It broke his heart. “Mousey…” he whispered, turning his head slightly so the bridge of his nose and his forehead pressed against her cheek instead, his eyes slipping shut. After a moment, he leaned back, gazing at her with such sorrowful, worried love, eyes beginning to grow misty. He was an emotional crier, an over-feeling psychopath; the smallest thing could set him off, and none more so than seeing his unbreakable mate cry. If Eris was crying, something was so terribly wrong. Drawing his paw up across the length of her side, he rested it on her upper foreleg, like he was still too shy to touch her stomach without her permission or invitation. “It won’t be the same. Your whole pregnancy was as perfect as anything could be — the kits grew and kicked, everything did what it should have done, you were as healthy as you’ve ever been; if Kate hadn’t done the things she did, there’s no reason in the world they wouldn’t have thrived. These kits will get that chance.” He gave her a small, searching smile, like he was trying to instil his own hope within her. It was still painful to speak of them, and maybe what he was saying was confronting, but the pain had a soft filter over it now — there were new ones to love and worry over, and unlike Eris, he didn’t feel that guilt of replacing them.
“Oh, Eris.” He brushed his nose against her cheek again, voice no more than a breath as his eyes closed; it took on a sorrowful culpability. He felt like they’d been reunited after a war; it felt like looking at her through falling ash, through settling embers and smoke from a forest fire, all that thick, gritty greyness that had kept them apart and that now encased them, hid them away from the rest of the world in that haze where nothing else in this life or the next mattered. There was only them. There was that unnameable self-consciousness that came of having been apart from someone so dear for so long, that shy sensation of hardly knew what to say to, how to act — and so they just stared, mouths opening soundlessly around words that didn’t hold nearly enough. So relieved, so self-conscious with the depth of what their souls said, so in love with her, a messy combination of all of those strong, extraordinary feelings. He felt that he was looking at her from across a war zone, that there was a sea of corpses and wounded and cats being slowly hauled up and imprisoned, some hazy fantasy of the League — and through it all was her, and he’d run to her. For the first time that night, he felt his head drop to the bottom of his stomach with all the intensity of full realisation — she was safe. She was here. They were together. The dead and dying could sob and wail around them, the ash could fall and settle — there was just them. He slipped his muzzle lower and pressed into the side of her neck, losing himself in the rained-out smell of her fur. It was all horrible metaphor, but that was how he felt — that the grey world was in stasis, and she was alive, and he was too, and the only thing that mattered was the feel of her body and the news she had told him. He couldn’t comprehend it; how could there be words for the feeling in his chest that was pure life?
“Oh, Eris.” And now, as he repeated it — his mantra, pleading and worshipful — his voice picked up speed, picked up tempo and volume and urgency; he pulled back to look at her, eyes desperate to make her understand. “I’ve been such a fool. You didn’t tell me — of course you didn’t tell me. That’s a mother’s right, of course I’d never dream of taking that from you. Oh, my heart, I’m sorry if I did — I was so selfish; you told me when you weren’t ready, I should have… I should have done so many things.” He collapsed his forehead against her again like he was overcome by his own guilt, lavishing care on her, lavishing forgiveness and apology, fussing over her, touching every inch of her. She was alive, she was alive. None of this mattered — in the past, forgotten, so insignificant it was just a pinprick in a life. “These kits, they’re not worth your life — if the League wanted their brats back, I would have handed them over. Oh, but that’s behind us, I can’t remember a thing about it — what brats? There’s only you, my love, there’s only you.” Again he ground his forehead against her temple with such frantic love. She was here. She was here. “These kits are everything. These kits are a blessing.” His voice dropped to a breath, barely audible, eyes closed. “A blessing.”
“So…” And now his shy, childish joy came back out, like someone had brought a puppy to class and he desperately wanted to go up to pet it but was too shy; his ears slipped back, and he suddenly looked very sweet, very tender as he gazed at her searchingly. The cheer slipped back in; he couldn’t not be happy about this news. It made him look terribly sheepish. He’d wanted to be happy all along, to rejoice; now, he let himself. Tentatively, like he was gauging her reaction. If he could have, he would have been slowly sitting, slowly sinking down to the ground like his legs could no longer support him in this daze of disbelief; as it was, his brows just pushed together and he brushed a hesitant, shy paw across her ribs — he didn’t care about his own; what broken rib? She was pressing against it; the pain was nothing — to finally, with a faintly trembling paw, rest it on her stomach. Like she was a lioness who’d snarl and swat him away. “M-mine?” he whispered — and it sounded so stupid. “They’re mine?” he breathed a little more articulately, eyes searching hers. He was trying to sound supportive, unjudgemental, to let her know that even if they weren’t, he’d stand by her, but he was just succeeding at sounding like an idiot. A stupid little smile played about his teeth, quirking up slightly at one side, so shy and nervous and dumb. “They’re— are— they are mine?”
And then he burst to life, alive with excitement, with planning. The war with the League was forgotten; it had never existed. Kier scooted back slightly, still holding onto her stomach so gently. “As soon as we get back I’ll have you made the softest nest in the world — pure luxury. You must be sore, what was I thinking?” He looked around frantically at the dripping forest, like he’d brought her out here. His memory was so fogged — there was just snippets of the future, of things they needed to do, of joy. His mind moved a mile a minute — kits, they were having kits. Focusing in on her again, he scooted closer like he hadn’t just scooted back, pressing impossibly close like he wanted to feel everything about her, desperate to feel her. “And I’ll have you brought breakfast every morning, in your lab or in bed, no matter how early — you’re always forgetting to eat. Oh! And dinner — no matter how late, no matter where you are, someone will find you with food.” He was babbling, falling over his own tongue. “And if you stay a little later in bed now, I won’t complain — more time with you is always a joy. I’ll stay with you, business can wait, my mate— OH! My mate is pregnant! My mate is pregnant— she’s the priority.” Then he added hurriedly after his dazedly theatrical explosion of joy, tightening his grip slightly on her stomach like he didn’t want her to not hear his amendment, “or I can leave you alone — of course you can sleep separately if that’s what you and these kits decide, I don’t want to crowd you.” He suddenly laughed, so nonsensical with joy. “I make it sound like there’s a little council between you all. No, no, but whatever you want, my dear. Whatever you need. Anything. Anything in the world — name it. You have full reign over the camp — I’m nothing, nothing at all, just your servant.”
And then, incomprehensibly, bouncing from one emotion to the next, Kier burst into tears. He looked at her with wide, joyful eyes, letting out a sob of hysterically happy disbelief, and pressed a little harder into her stomach with his gentle paw, stupid with joy. “You’re— you’re carrying kits? In here?” He laughed again, his own tears blending with the remnants of hers and creating black tracks against black fur. “I’m so sorry for everything I said — I was a raving fool. Such an idiot. You have nothing to apologise for — you’re alive; you’ve alive, that’s all that matters. More than alive — you’re full of life. Carrying life.” His voice had dropped to a reverent, disbelieving whisper. He twisted back over himself to press his ear and cheek against her stomach. Kier closed his eyes and a smile spread across his face. After a few moments, he opened them again and met her gaze. He was calmer, but his joy was the same. “We’ll be fine, Mousey,” he whispered, cheek still against her stomach as he looked up at her. He already felt them all to be in a delicate bubble of family. “These kits will be fine. This is our second chance. The gods have granted it — no, to hell with the gods. We’ve taken it. We’ve given it to ourselves.” He pulled himself back up and pushed his muzzle against hers, tail curling up over her stomach. “And no force of nature, nothing in creation, will take it away. Not this time.”
The shift in the atmosphere was quick and sudden, split down the middle of the room where Kier could celebrate the joy of new kits and Eris could flounder in sorrow at the very prospect. She felt it, like sunlight tickling the edges of a dark room, warming anything by proxy, bright and happy, but not so much as to chase away the shadows. Then, he made his way over to her, bringing his gentle joy with him, supporting her as she lay there tearful and helpless. Even though Kier was consoling, soft, accepting of her moment of weakness, Eris still wanted to sink into the ground, grab herself by the face and force the tears and the doubt away; she wanted to share his happiness because it was the least she could do when she had chased him away from sharing their grief.
Mousey, we raise our kits.
The words were simple, almost lighthearted, and the answer was much the same — it was obvious; they raised their kits. They would do just that. But the fear, the grief, didn't dissipate, and it still twisted at her gut, made her look at her paws instead of meeting Kier's eyes, made her tail curl protectively around herself. She knew the last pregnancy had been nothing but healthy, despite her own consistent health issues, but she couldn't eradicate the fear that that had been a one-time thing, a chance long gone, and that something would happen this time around, something out of her control. Oh, Eris. He said it once, twice, and the second time around she finally tilted her head up to let her eyes flicker towards him, just as unsure, as though she were treading calm water, attempting not to disturb it. Now, just as she had felt bad for everything she'd done in regards to their lost kits, she felt bad for not being able to celebrate with him because of it — it was a cycle that repeated endlessly, finding fault in everything, wanting to push him away and pull him close at the same time, feeling right and just in everything, feeling downtrodden and guilty. If Kier was gentle water, she was the thundering, dark clouds overhead, blocking the sun, threatening to rile up the waves. Now, he was apologizing to her, and she didn't want to accept it, she didn't think she could, but Eris nodded anyway, messily sad with her tear-streaked face and stuffed nose. A blessing. Again, she nodded. A blessing, she could try to believe. Eventually, she was sure, she would. She lifted a paw to wipe her face with the back of it, letting the still air dry the rest.
They’re— are— they are mine? Surprisingly, it got a laugh out of her, low and wet but genuine, "yes, yes of course. I'd have told you otherwise." If they were from anyone else, she would have been more angry than miserable, but she didn't say that out loud. He rambled, animated and lively enough for the both of them, and she felt her own spirits being lifted, just a little, because it was so infectious — another time, she might have refused to let it show, might have tried to block it out altogether to keep up her stone-cold facade, but she didn't; she let herself smile, tentative and unsure, and she let herself be open to it, to the celebration, because she wanted to love the idea of these kits, she wanted to love them just as much as she loved the previous ones — the dead ones, the ones she wouldn't get to see. But she would get to see these ones. And no force of nature, nothing in creation, will take it away.
"Nothing," she agreed, shifting aside and climbing to her paws, even if her legs still shook unsteadily, weakly, but they didn't give out. She didn't want to feel so helpless, so upset — she wanted to feel the same joy. And, once again like creeping sunlight, she felt the feeling inch closer, Kier's happiness and certainty chasing away her trepidation. "They'll be wonderful," her words sounded more sure, more stable. "Do you think it's too early to think of names? I'm thinking something magical. Or maybe elegant. They'll be royalty, it's only fitting." She padded to his side again, leaning her head against his shoulder, letting a small sigh escape from between her lips, hardly audible. "They'll be wonderful," she repeated, a mantra of her own.
Eris’ first nod was his first encouragement, and he met it with an excited smile, like he’d been fuelled by it, rearranging his back legs eagerly where he lay against her like he had to move somehow to alleviate all this frantic kinetic energy. She nodded again and it almost broke him with the glee of relief — she was alright; she’d be alright. “A blessing, my heart, a blessing,” he echoed in a tight, crackling whisper, pressing his forehead against her tear-streaked cheek again and holding her close from behind. It broke his heart that they’d never have a family to be happy about the news, or to love their kits, or to help raise them or just do little things like babysit — but they would be enough. They would be enough for these kits. This second chance would be different.
At her laugh, he laughed along, his own punctuated by a wide, open-mouthed smile while hers was wet with tears. “Mine!” he squealed excitedly, and it was the genuineness of Kier’s, that inability to be embarrassed by his own behaviour or the things he said, that in moments like this made him feel exceptionally cute and exceptionally earnest. During his excitement, he bowed his head again to her stomach, touching it first with his muzzle and then pressing his ear against it, like he would already be able to hear something, to feel something — he couldn’t, but the gleeful smile still didn’t leave his face. By now, he was purring too hard to speak.
When Eris pushed herself up, Kier’s grin immediately turned to worry and he tried to sit up with her before being met by a stabbing pain in his side; he’d forgotten about the break. Letting himself sink back down with a faint, pained breath, he followed her up with his eyes instead, offering her a small smile through the burst of discomfort. It suddenly looked more tired, but no less joyful. They’ll be wonderful. The smile widened, pushing the bottoms of his eyes up; that certainty from her was all he’d wanted to hear. When she started to speak of names, the smile grew into a smitten, dreamy grin — this was happening; this was real; this was all so very real, and Eris was alright, and everything that mattered in this world was here with him now. Even Laertes faded to the background — he’d expected his betrayal, but Kier’s love could be as harsh as his anger, and right now everything beyond him, his mate, and their unborn kits could have been swallowed up by fire. “I’d always…” He faltered, suddenly incomprehensibly embarrassed. Shy. He gave her a little half-grin, looked down, looked back up. “It’s silly, you know, but I’d always thought how nice it would be to… I don’t know why I’m suddenly so shy.” He laughed, shaking out his forepaw like that would do anything to dispel the nerves. “I feel like I’m on a first date. But, no, you know,” he never fumbled with his words like this, “I proposed to you on the moors, and the better part of my family is from there, and… A little thing from there might be nice.” He slowly ducked his head, ears pinning back and smile sheepish — so dominant with everyone but his small, undone wife. “A few little things. Our kits aren’t of this forest — they’re of colder places and churchyards. They should have that legacy.”
And then a little grin snaked across his face, some of his usual confidence returning as she moved closer to him. He reached out a paw like a hunter — “some of the legacy that sounds a little like” — he hooked her round the shoulders and dragged her back down to him, rolling onto his back so her own back was held against his chest and stomach, purring huskily in her ear as she lay upturned — “Mo leannan. Mo chridhe. Tha thu bòidheach. Tha thu a’ coimhead cho breagha. Tha gaol agam ort, tha gaol agam ort, gu sìorraidh is gu bràth.” He held her round the waist, keeping her in place with his grinning muzzle brushing her neck fur. She was light enough that the pain on his rib from being crushed beneath her wasn’t unbearable — he liked her like this anyway. He tittered against her ear. “My little harridan. I was just a poor, impressionable trainee when you set your vicious sights on me — and now you’ve trapped me with children. What a miserable marriage. I’ll have to find myself some pretty little thing to soothe the woes of being indentured to such a harpy — maybe we can share.” He tittered again, rocking faintly from side to side with her. Then, letting go of her with one paw and sobering quietly, he drew it up to smooth down the fur on the side of her neck instead; he couldn’t see it from the angle he was at, but he knew her body as well as he knew his own. “Royalty,” he whispered, echoing her words of a moment earlier. His grip on her grew gentler, more tender; he brushed the size of his muzzle against the side of her jaw. “Words can’t say how happy I am, Mousey.”