Chapter Seven

-Thakur-

Mira stared at the cat, feeling her heartbeat stutter in her chest. Could it be possible? Was it really the cat from her dream? She fought the two instincts within her – one to flee, the other to stay and find out if he was real, was here at last. Had she found him, after all this time? A warm and unexpected feeling filled Mira's chest. Would he love her, like he always had in her dreams? The thought of comfort and warmth and a fluent, beautiful cascade of words made Mira dare to stay, dare to keep her eyes fixated on the green ones she'd longed to see for so long. The burn scar on her shoulder tingled, and she wondered if this green-eyed cat had anything to do with her near-death experience as a cub. He was one of the Fire-cats… so had he wanted her dead? A sudden fear replaced the hope she'd been feeling. She took a step back, her whole body trembling.

"Mira knows Thakur?" Thistle-chaser asked curiously, her pale green eyes turning from one to the other.

"I couldn't say. Are you alright?" Thakur looked at Mira steadily, and his voice caused Mira to pause and gaze at him in wonder. It was soft, flowing like honey. Her entire being ached to hear it again, longing to bring back that faint feeling of recognition that had filled her at the sound of it.

"This one is… is…" Mira hissed in frustration. She had no words to describe her feelings.

"Confused, it seems," Thakur said, smiling slightly in a very friendly and warm way. Mira's limbs turned weak with happiness at the expression, though she couldn't explain why. Her feelings were like the ones she'd felt when she'd been praised by the elder during hunting lessons. It was as if she were a youngling again, bent on bringing happiness to this one cat. She did not understand the feeling, but she cherished it all the same.

"Confused…."

"It means that you don't really understand, or can't express what you feel." Thakur's words were hard to comprehend, but Mira did not want to ask him to explain himself again. She just listened, in awe of the fluency of his speech. Ever her den-mother had not had such lovely words.

"Will teach Mira?" She asked suddenly, hopefully. Thakur blinked.

"What?"

"Will Thakur teach Mira to speak like… like Named?" Thakur looked at her steadily and then at Thistle-chaser, who smiled lopsidedly.

"Well, I don't see much harm in it. But we have to return to the Clan soon, so we won't have much time."

"Mira will use time. Mira learns quick." The black cat said eagerly. She wanted to be near the green-eyed cat, wanted to find out why she had remembered his face, why his voice filled her with memories of warmth and comfort and the love she had never felt as a cub with her den-mother.

"You said that your name is Mira, right?" Thakur looked at her steadily, a smile on his face.

"Y-yes. Mira named self, but wants real name. Wants to meet Ratha-mother. But this one does not get name if can't speak like Named. Must learn Named ways, speak and get name from Ratha-mother." Mira's smile turned wistful as she imagined having her own name, possibly a family among the Named. She thought of the pain that had haunted her dreams, the fire that had scarred her shoulder, and she wondered if it was such a good idea. But she longed for it so badly, she didn't want anything to stop her now.

"M-Mira?" Mira turned and saw Moon's Death staring at her, uncertainty shimmering in his grey eyes.

"Is Ok. Thakur and Thistle-chaser mean no harm." She smiled and the male relaxed, stepping out from behind some boulders and trotting up to them. He eyed Thakur uncertainly, skirting him and positioning himself just beside Mira and far from the other male. Mira cast him a curious glance and then returned her attention to Thakur.

"This Moon's Death."

"You speak, as well, Moon's Death?" Thakur asked, smiling.

"Little," Moon's Death replied stiffly.

"Moon's Death can learn from Thakur, as well, yes?" Mira smiled eagerly, her tail twitching with excitement. Thistle-chaser tilted her head to one side and there was a very knowing look in her gentle eyes, one that made Mira feel a strange sense of kinship with the beautiful cat.

"I don't see why not." Thakur said with a smile.

"Moon's Death… learn speak?" The male cast Mira a startled glance.

"Thakur is Named. Ratha-mother, leader, can give name to Mira." Moon's Death tilted his head to one side and stared at Mira for a long time.

"Moon's Death… want name, as well… real name. Not name called by mother." He said slowly, his eyes so deeply sad and lonely that Mira wanted only to press her muzzle against his cheek and comfort him. Instead she brushed her tail against his flank, a little sad smile spreading across her face. He stared at her, enraptured by the expression, it seemed, and then he smiled back.

"Then make journey together." Mira said decidedly. She turned and saw that Thakur was staring at her, a troubled expression on his face. It vanished instantly upon her appraisal, however – so quickly she almost thought she must have imagined it. But as the days passed, that expression reappeared many times. Even when Thakur was happy, or teaching the two cats new words and expressions, there was a sense of hesitancy about him that Mira did not understand. The only thing she could think of was the one thing her heart dreaded… and longed for the most.

That even in a dream, he somehow knew her, too.