AUTHOR'S NOTE: Nyreem is yet another random doe from TFWD. And this is the last chapter.
Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point. (English translation: The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.)
Hazel slowly opened his eyes. His vision was blurry, but around him he could vaguely see various rabbits. The one closest to him caught his attention.
-Yes, Hazel. It's me.
Hazel remained motionless for a few seconds. Then, he buried his head as deep in Fiver's fur as he could.
-Oh Fiver, I'm so sorry.
-Sorry? What for?
-I was unable to save you, and the only way I could find you was to stop running myself.
-Hazel, do you know where we are?
-Inlé, where else?
-No. We are both safe at Watership Down. Nobody stopped running.
It took Hazel several seconds to understand what Fiver had said. After he had finally processed the information and realized what it meant, he hugged Fiver closely and started to cry.
-We should leave these two alone, suggested Bigwig. Come with me. Blackberry? Are you all right?
Blackberry was further away in the Honeycomb, slowly regaining consciousness.
-Bigwig, is Fiver really here, or did I just imagine the whole thing? he struggled to say.
-He's really here. Now let's leave him alone with Hazel. Come with me.
The rabbits slowly left the Honeycomb, until the only ones left there were Fiver, Hazel and Hyzenthlay. Hazel was still hugging Fiver.
-You're never leaving again.
-I don't intend to, but would you at least let me breathe?
Hazel let go of Fiver, but the two remained close to each other. He briefly took his head out of his brother's fur to tell Hyzenthlay:
-I shouldn't have doubted you when you said Fiver hadn't stopped running.
-It's all right, Hazel. Now I'll leave you two alone.
With that, she left the Honeycomb. As Chief Rabbit, she would have to catch up with all the events that had happened during her absence.
Bigwig, Hyzenthlay and Pipkin were trying to make their way through a large crowd of rabbits. Everyone was asking them questions about their journey, but they were unable to get themselves heard over the noise.
-Bigwig, said Hyzenthlay, you're better at talking to large crowds. Will you tell them to keep quiet?
-Leave it to me. OI! EVERYBODY QUIET! ONE AT A TIME!
Everyone became quiet as they heard Bigwig's shout.
-There is something I don't understand. Many of you weren't here when I left the warren with the others, a few weeks ago, noticed Hyzenthlay.
-Many rabbits joined the warren while you were gone, explained Bluebell. Here are the two leaders, Hickory and Marigold.
The two rabbits slowly approached Pipkin, Hyzenthlay and Bigwig.
-Your smell seems very familiar to me, said Pipkin. Have we met before?
-I don't know who you are, or what you are doing here, and as captain of owsla it is my business to know such things, said Bigwig. Explain yourselves.
Hickory and Marigold remained silent. They were in front of the rabbit they had left to die in the shining wire. While this had happened many seasons before, they still felt a strong sense of guilt.
-WHY DOES NOBODY ANSWER ME?
-It's a long story, Bigwig, replied Thethuthinnang. Come to my burrow and I will explain everything. You should bring the rabbit with a feather too.
A look of shock and fear appeared on Bigwig's face as he heard his mate's last remark. She had clearly found out about the mistake he had made.
-Who told you?
Meanwhile in the Honeycomb, Fiver and Hazel were absorbed in a conversation.
-You all had a hard journey. Is everyone all right? asked Fiver.
-Several of us have been hurt along the way, but we all survived. We brought back another rabbit with us. I guess I'll have to talk to Thethuthinnang...
-You won't have to. I already did.
-How did you know?
-I had a feeling.
-What's all the noise?
-Bigwig is arguing with some new rabbits who joined the warren while you were gone.
-You should tell me about it. It sounds interesting.
-All right. It all started a few weeks ago, when Bluebell, who was Chief Rabbit, organized a patrol...
-Bluebell was Chief Rabbit?
-Pretty much everyone was Chief Rabbit at some point. Anyway, that day it was Bluebell, and he...
A while later, Bigwig, Spartina and Thethuthinnang came out of the burrow where the discussion had occurred. Bigwig had confessed to his mistake and Thethuthinnang had accepted his apology. Spartina also rather satisfied, as she got a position in the owsla. Suddenly, she bumped into Buttercup.
-I'm sorry, said Buttercup. I...
-No, it's all right, assured Spartina. I don't think I know you...
-I'm Buttercup. You are...
-I'm Spartina. It's nice to meet you, Buttercup.
The two does stared at and smelled each other for a few seconds, before walking away in separate directions. Bigwig quickly forgot about the incident, and went to see Hazel.
-I have to talk to you. Right now.
-What's the matter, Bigwig? You seem disturbed. Anything wrong with Thethuthinnang?
-No, that turned out better than I expected. It's something else. She's been telling me how the warren has been invaded by rabbits from Cowslip's warren.
-I know, Fiver just told me. It's going to be crowded, but this is only temporary, until...
-Do we drive them out or kill them?
-What are you talking about?
-Hazel, I know you're still recovering from when I hit you, but surely you understand what this means? They killed Pimpernel. They nearly killed me. Nothing good can come out of this.
-They just want to start a new life, free from the shining wire. We gave the Efrafan survivors a chance after the battle, why shouldn't we do the same thing with these rabbits?
Bigwig hesitated for a few seconds, before deciding:
-All right, I will let them alone. But I swear, if they become the least bit hostile, you can be sure I'll...
-I'm sure you will, Bigwig. You really should calm down.
The rabbits spent most of the evening listening to Hazel, Hyzenthlay, Fiver, Vilthuril and the others telling them the story of their adventures.
A while later, the subject of digging was brought up again.
-Hickory and Marigold were wondering when digging would resume, inquired Nyreem.
-Hazel-rah, please call off the digging, begged Hawkbit. I can't take it anymore.
-He really seems to hate digging, said Spartina, who was playing bobstones with Buttercup in a corner of the Honeycomb.
-Ever since I arrived at the warren, he's done nothing but complain about it, recalled Buttercup.
-Digging the new warren is very important, explained Hazel, but I don't think there will be any today. We've just come back from a difficult journey and we're all very tired, I think we should rest for a few days.
-Oh thank you so much Hazel, said Hawkbit, thank you for calling off the digging.
-I didn't call off the digging. I merely said that there wouldn't be any today. In a few days, once we've all recovered from our journey, we will all help dig the new warren.
-And that includes you, added Bluebell.
-And hopefully you won't complain too much, concluded Vilthuril.
Hawkbit stared at Hazel, then at all the others, before leaving the Honeycomb mumbling something about how he would have liked to have gone on the trip with Hazel and the others. Soon afterwards, nearly all the rabbits retreated to their burrows to sleep. Watership Down was at peace.
! ! FINISHED ! !
After several months of planning, 43 days of writing and around 5 months of editing and posting, it's all over.
I wish to thank Bright Side and Acacia Heartstrings of the Fiver's Honeycomb forum, who took the time to review nearly every chapter I posted and helped me improve my writing.
I also wish to thank all the other people who reviewed and/or favourited (sorted alphabetically): Fox Teen, Lauz-millz, Myrkin, Sharks Potter, Silverweed's Claws, SmileyXs Ice-cream Sprinkles, Strifer and Tay Bartlett.
I also wish to thank the following:
*Tyler Sontag, who provided me with the title.
*As well as all the people who inspired me (sorted alphabetically): Acacia Heartstrings, arnoldretsch1998, Bright Side, David "Loganberry" Buttery, CrispinVCampion, Crackers, Dark-Celeste, Darkling Nocturnal, Fox Teen, Marinell Harriman, Hereward the White, Sam Hughes, Hyzenthlay, Hyzenthlay69, Jadefrost-rah, Journalist793, kamikazitwinkie, karrenia, Keeralie Starflight, Nina Paley, Tom Patten, PcKtmouse, potophan94, Sharks Potter, Shrrgnien, Silverweed's Claws, Thethuthinnang, VideoGameMaster1478, Vilthuril, Bill Welch, and my sister.
And, of course, Richard Adams and Martin Rosen.
So it's over. I don't know what I'm going to write now. I have ideas for several other fanfics (all Watership Down related), but it will probably take a few weeks, or a few months, before I post any others.
Thank you for reading, and please review.