By: Shira the Mage
Hi everyone! This is my first fanfic, no flaming please! Constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated. The story may start out a little cliché, but don't worry; it will get crazy! (I hope!) Enjoy! #longestprologueever ;p
Lightning arced over the sky as torrents of wind and rain blasted the earth. The lake swelled and churned; colossal waves pounding the shore with crashes drowned out only by the angry rumble of thunder. To be out in this weather was absolutely crazy, so the cats of ThunderClan, WindClan, and RiverClan remained in their respective camps, huddled around each other in their dens for warmth until the storm passed.
The fourth Clan, ShadowClan, however, had a situation to deal with first before thinking of shelter.
As the tempest roared, the cats of ShadowClan sat hunched over in the clearing where they made camp. No one moved, ears flattened against the rain, pelts buffeted by strong gusts of wind, the cats stayed close to each other in small groups. A warrior was in the middle of a life-threatening battle, and as a pained cry was heard over the howling wind, there was no doubt that she was loosing. All eyes squinted through the rain to the clan nursery, where inside, a queen struggled to bring her kits into the world.
Dawnheart lay in a soft nest inside the nursery, claws working in and out, her face twisted in agony as another contraction rippled through her body. Beside her sat the medicine cat, a ginger and white she-cat named Sweetflower, who was trying to stifle her own concern.
"It's alright," Sweetflower soothed, softly resting her paw on Dawnheart's flank when the queen cried out again. Wincing at the false comfort, the medicine cat gritted her teeth in concentration.
Dawnheart had been kitting for most of the day and was utterly exhausted. Sweetflower knew how perilous the situation was, and racked her brain desperately for something to help. She had tried everything, but Dawnheart was getting weaker and weaker, and the first kit had yet to arrive. This was Sweetflower's first emergency since the loss of her apprentice, Maplepaw, who had died a moon earlier of food poisoning from a bad pigeon, and Sweetflower was getting overwhelmed.
Another boom of thunder sounded outside, making Sweetflower flinch.
What a night for a kitting!
Dawnheart was an older she-cat; Sweetflower had been wary when Dawnheart and her mate, Mudstripe, announced the pregnancy, knowing that problems were more common in older births. That knowledge, plus the fact that the kits came one moon early, Maplepaw's death and absence, and the awful storm all signaled major trouble to Sweetflower.
StarClan protect us all- especially Dawnheart, Sweetflower prayed as the black and white queen shuddered with a large contraction. As it came, she whimpered softly.
Sweetflower snapped back to attention, shaking her head. She pressed down lightly.
"Hang on Dawnheart, here comes the first kit!" Dawnheart gave a shriek as a tiny silver shape slithered out onto the moss. Sweetflower rushed forward and licked the kit clean, while Dawnheart gave a tired sigh and flopped on her side, panting.
"Dawnheart, meet your daughter." Sweetflower looked on fondly as the little she-kit wailed loudly and blindly squirmed toward Dawnheart's belly to feed.
"Are they here yet? I'm sure I heard something! Is everything okay?" Mudstripe burst through the nursery entrance, shaking water droplets in all directions, and cold radiating off his drenched brown tabby pelt. He skidded to a stop upon seeing his mate and new daughter.
"Oh, Dawnheart," he breathed, eyes flooded with emotion. "She's as beautiful as you are."
Dawnheart raised her head weakly.
A gasp of pain cut Dawnheart off, and her eyes bulged. She began trembling and writhing on the floor. Her silver kit was jostled away from her belly and gave a squeak of protest.
"Dawnheart!" Mudstripe was crouching by his mate's side in an instant. His head swung to face Sweetflower. "What's wrong with her?"
Sweetflower gasped. "Another kit!" She immediately put her paw on Dawnheart, and started feeling. Dawnheart gave a small moan, and strained hard. When nothing happened, she flopped down again, dazed.
"Dawnheart, no! You can't give up now!" Panic seized Sweetflower. If Dawnheart stopped now, she would die along with the unborn kit.
Mudstripe pressed his cheek to Dawnheart's tenderly and murmured, "Please, my love. Do this for our kits. Do this for me." Dawnheart's eyes flashed bright blue and her whole body began to shake. With a yowl that reached for StarClan, Dawnheart gave a massive shove, and the second kit finally slipped out.
"Another she-kit." Sweetflower purred. "You did it, Dawnheart." However, as she turned to the second kit to lick it clean, Sweetflower noticed with alarm that its little white body was remarkably still.
Is she alive? As Sweetflower nosed the kit anxiously, she detected a faint heartbeat.
Sweetflower got right to business, pawing phlegm out of the kit's mouth and nose, clearing the airway. She then proceeded to lick the kit the wrong way, and just when she was about to give up hope, the she-kit gave a shudder and Sweetflower saw the flank begin to rise and fall. She gave a sigh of relief as the kit began to wriggle and mewl noisily.
"Blood! Sweetflower, help!"
Sweetflower whirled around in alarm. Mudstripe was staring at Dawnheart in horror, and with a cry of shock, Sweetflower noticed the puddle of blood that was growing rapidly around the queen. She scrambled to Dawnheart's side and sucked in a breath.
There's too much blood…
Greif threatened to sweep Sweetflower off her paws. She had saved the kit, but there was no way she could save the mother. A voice inside her head berated her. She's dying and it's all your fault! What kind of useless excuse for a medicine cat are you? A paw prodded her sharply, interrupting her self-pity.
"Why are you just standing like that? You have to do something to help Dawnheart!" Mudstripe stood facing her, panic lighting his amber eyes, his claws digging into the ground. Sweetflower bowed her head, forcing herself to say what came next.
"I-I'm sorry, Mudstripe," Sweetflower's voice cracked, but she plowed on, "she's lost too much blood. There's nothing I can do." Mudstripe's eyes widened and he opened his mouth to protest when a voice stopped him.
"Mudstripe, come here." Dawnheart was breathing jagged breaths, and was trying hard to remain conscious.
Sweetflower stroked her side with a paw. "Hush, don't make things worse." Dawnheart shook her head.
"No," She looked past Sweetflower to her two kits, her blue eyes flickering dimly with love.
"Mudstripe, we-we need… to name our kits." She was struggling to breath now, the blood pooling around her. Mudstripe stepped right up to her, ignoring the blood lapping at his paws.
"Of course," he spoke softly, gently touching his nose to her ear, "is there anything in particular you want to call them?"
"I want…her to be named…Lilykit, after my-my mother, Lilypetal." Dawnheart was barely audible now, her eyes starting to fog as she feebly gestured to the white kit with her tail. Mudstripe's eyes were glistening, and choked out, "Lilykit, that's beautiful. What do we call the silver one?" Dawnheart gazed sadly at her beloved mate.
"You choose." she rasped.
"Okay," Mudstripe meowed. "Her name will be Rainkit. It's because it's raining outside, and her silver fur matches the clouds. Is that all right with you?" Dawnheart's response was so quiet that Sweetflower had to strain her ears to hear it.
"It's-it's perfect. I'll…miss them…Lilykit a-and Rainkit."
"Miss them?" Mudstripe echoed "Why? You'll be right here with me to raise them together."
"Lilykit and Rainkit." Dawnheart repeated, closing her eyes with a contented look on her face.
"Yes, Lilykit and Rainkit, our kits. We need you to stay with us." Mudstripe pleaded, his voice high-pitched with desperation."
"Lilykit…" Dawnheart whispered, resting her head down and lay still. Mudstripe nudged her side.
"Dawnheart? Please answer me. Please." But Dawnheart never spoke again. Sweetflower lightly rested her tail on his shoulder.
"She will watch over us in StarClan now." Sweetflower spoke gently.
Mudstripe let out a moan of grief, and sunk down beside his mate's lifeless body, gathering his kits between them. Sweetflower moved back to give them space.
"StarClan, how did things go so wrong?" Mudstripe cried, his nose pressed into Dawnheart's black and white pelt. Sweetflower looked on. The second kit, Sweetflower thought. Lilykit, whose name was on her mother's tongue when she died. Who Sweetflower saved while Dawnheart died. The kit that had almost died herself.
I was supposed to save Dawnheart, not Lilykit! The thought struck Sweetflower like a lightning bolt from the storm outside. The early birth, the long, painful delivery, Dawnheart's death, Lilykit's near death, even the raging storm outside all made sense now.
"It's a bad omen. A warning. Lilykit was never supposed to be born." Sweetflower muttered quietly to herself. Not enough, though.
"Excuse me?" Mudstripe had overheard, and had sprang to his paws, amber eyes blazing with anger.
"My mate just bled to death in front of me, my kits are motherless, and now you say my newborn daughter is a bad omen?" Mudstripe was quaking now, his voice a mix of grief and fury. "What is wrong with you?"
All the stress, heartache, confusion, and misery of the day, and now getting yowled at caused something in Sweetflower to snap.
"What's wrong with me? I'll tell you!" Sweetflower lashed her tail. "My apprentice is dead, and I'm getting older by the day with no replacement. I spent an entire day trying to help a cat, only to have her die at the last moment. I'm stressed, and now you're yelling at me, so I'm sorry if I'm looking for someone to blame!" Ashamed of her outburst, Sweetflower took a breath and tried to fix things.
"I apologize; that was completely uncalled for. And like I said, I've got a lot weighing on me right now, and I'm a little paranoid. Lilykit is not responsible for anything; she's a kit and I got irrational." The fur on Mudstripe's back settled.
"It's fine," he mewed quietly. "I was a little harsh. You do so much for us all, Sweetflower, so thank you. It's just," Mudstripe paused, mournfully looking at Dawnheart's body.
"I loved her so much. I thought she would always be with me." His head drooped. Sweetflower rested her paw on his in comfort.
"She still is. You just won't see her."
Mudstripe dipped his head in gratitude as Sweetflower retreated out of the nursery, ignoring the mob of cats asking questions, telling the clan Mudstripe would explain, and sinking into her own nest inside the medicine den.
She tried as hard as she could to find sleep, but the nagging guilt from the lie she told Mudstripe kept her awake. No matter what she had said to placate him, Sweetflower had been a medicine cat for seasons, and she knew a sign when she saw one. Her belly churned with worry as she thought of how this new danger could shatter the small peace the clan had. All this just from a tiny kit.
A kit that never should have been born.