Heartbeats
By: Manna


xOx…

The proud, strong stone walls of Stormwind have seen more activity than most other places combined. The loft for the gryphons overlooks the calm, cool water of the moat, and the towers have had the chance to see both friend and foe wander through Elwynn Forest.

The streets have felt the press of feet for generations; these days, the heavy clomp of a guard on patrol might be contrasted by the light, swaying steps of confused old Emma, off to find water again, water she doesn't need, water she's never been sent to fetch. Maybe the aged cobblestones rejoice in the soft, pattering steps of one of Timmy's kittens, the tiny, mewling creatures that he loves and saves every time he finds one that needs a home.

His father's worn leather shoes tap against the wooden steps of their tiny home as he shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders. There's no place for them, those cats, those animals without a home.

But what about the people without homes, he retorts, and his father shakes his head and tells him that people are different than animals. Timmy doesn't agree, can't agree, because cats and humans both have beating hearts, and can feel pain and loneliness and hunger.

Someday, you see, when his kittens become cats, Timmy will grow up to be Tim, or Timothy, and his feet will join the armored toes of the Stormwind Guard after Emma stops leaving the house for water she doesn't need. By then, the stone walls are going to be a little more worn, and the floorboards of the grphyon loft will be hastily patched in places.

But the flags of the Alliance will still wave merrily in the breezes that sweep through the forest surrounding Stormwind, and Timothy's kittens will still need saving. So he'll continue to do so, though it's never easy to gain the trust of a tiny ball of fur with a suit of armor on.

Emma will roll in her bed, toward the window where she can still see the colors of the city in the tatty banners that are just over Timothy's head as he strokes the head of a lonely, grey cat that will clean up to be white.

She'll sigh, you know, and she'll see those flags as if they're brand new, because that's how she remembers them. The day that all the women of Stormwind got together to sew them burns as fresh and bright in her eyes as a candle's flame.

It's been a while since she's seen little Timmy, and Adam, and Gil, and all the other boys, but she'll assume they're all together, tossing fishing line into the canals to see if they can catch one of the crocolisks that have been fabled to live there. She laughs to herself, in her quiet, dark home, because she's seen them moving in the deepest waters, and she can't imagine what those little boys would do even if they managed to catch one. They'd yell, and they'd drop their poles and run, she thinks, amusing herself.

She'll need water, but she won't move to get it. If she sees Timmy or Adam, she'll shout for them and ask them to bring her some, but she doesn't see either of them. It's the middle of the night, after all, and she can't see anything. Adam died years ago, though nobody bothered to tell her, and Timmy's now Timothy. He'll lift his tunic to let that tiny greyish kitten out into the barracks while his bunkmates laugh and shake their heads, used to his ways, but never fully understanding his reasoning behind saving the lives of cats.

Cats! they'll think, cats! The Stormwind Guard saves lives, protects the city, not cats! But Timothy will become Timmy again for just a moment, as the moonlight washes over the city, and the people sleep, and he'll give a sad little smile, because he's been fortunate—or perhaps unfortunate—enough to grow up in the city, and he'll rub one of his thumbs over the soft, dirty fur of the tiny bundle in his arms as it purrs and presses its cheek against his hand.

"Ain't they just as much a part of this city as the rest of us?" he'll ask, and Gil and Billy and Brandon will suddenly appear somber as they avert their eyes and begin to shine their boots.

They'll know he's right.

Animals, people…they all have hearts, and sometimes, late at night, even over the sound of a kitten lapping milk out of a small tin cup, he'll wonder if he can hear the sound of a million hearts beating. It's the sound of the city, and as he listens, he remembers again why he tries so hard to protect Stormwind's worn walls and cobblestone streets.

It's home, not only for him, but for so many others, too, from ol' Emma to the cat that has chosen to fall asleep in the crook of his arm.


xOx…

Author Notes:

This is practice writing. Thank you for reading, and please leave some feedback if you have the time.