Disclaimer: This is based on the book, I've never seen the TV series or the whole film. I don't own any character's but the gulls (excluding Kehaar) and Matte. Although the characterisation of some could be taken as mine... oh and I haven't read the sequel so don't pick on me.
A/N: Originally an oneshot, but I've decided it will be a mini-project instead, don't expect quick UDs.
"Thlayli is awaiting, on the storm swept downs, For his white clothed lover, flying through the towns. But he waits so patient, next to Fiver lad, Thlayli waits for Kehaar, his wandering nomad." Bluebell smiled as he watched Bigwig and Fiver sitting at the base of the hill. Holly cuffed him playfully.
"Watch that mouth, Bluebell, all this rhyming will get you into trouble someday." Holly spoke with his grave Owsla manner despite the twinkle in his eye. Bluebell smiled in return, bounding back as a second clout swung his way. Holly despite his age had not lost his weighty agility. The two friends headed back down for the Honeycomb, Bluebell carefully watching Holly's forepaws.
"Hrairoo?" Bigwig started, but stopped abruptly, turning the single word into a question. Fiver's eyes looked up questioningly, he had taken Hazel's death badly, but – or so Bigwig sometimes thought – was connected enough with the other side to have a continuing relationship to his brother. The larger rabbit sighed.
"Fiver, do you think he'll ever come?"
Fiver's searching eyes met Bigwig's. "Yes. Thlayli-rah, I do."
Bigwig looked down in doubt, "I should get back to the kittens. There're a few young bucks that need their heads thumped together." He laughed uneasily, still looking out across the countryside and sky. "Come on Fiver, silfay's over this evening."
Fiver shook his head, "I'm going down to the river."
Bigwig turned. Standing on his rear legs, "Watch your back."
A flock of clack-headed gulls passed overhead as Fiver watched the fast flowing water break through rocks and reeds. He raised his head and cried out to them, it was a risk he knew, but nothing told him that there was reason to worry, so he allowed the small white birds with their sleek grey-white plumage to land around him.
One of them waddled out towards him, "Meester Leporidae, why do you call us down?"
Fiver squirmed, "I wanted to ask if you knew of a gull by the name of Kehaar. He looks much like you. but his wing is slightly askew, as if it was once broken... he is a friend of my warren." He added as explanation.
"Da vater we usually travel over ees very peeg, Meester Leporidae. I know no Kehaar." He said all this with an air of pride and grandeur. "But my name ees Peevode. I ever see your Kehaar, I vill tell him you ask."
"Thank you. Tell him, Fiver. Fiver from Watership Down."
"Fiver from Vatership Down." The gull saluted. "Be more careful, leetle one, not all of my kind are as affable as my flock."
Fiver nodded, preparing to leave when another gull fluttered down before him. The gull had ragged feathers and was missing a phalanx of its webbed right foot. "I knew Kehaar." He turned to the others. "I catch up later perhaps, Peevode, eef not, keep on without me."
The other gulls mounted once more upon the winds, the decrepit, weathered bird and the small mammal watched them fly into small dots on the horizon.
"Why are you staying behind?" Fiver queried, his head cocked to one side.
"They fly better without Gelaar holding them back. Maybe I die soon, maybe not, but I can't make it back to Peeg Vater."
They began to move up the hill and Gelaar told the short story.
"One Summer ago, me and Kehaar was flying through thees lands. 'E had been stopped with rabbits who had 'elped him with a break (that you I guess?). There 'ad been peeg esacpe with male rabbits and female rabbits. 'E had been helping. Over to de Vest ve came across a rabbit. Wild crazed rabbit with scary eyes. Ve had stopped for drink and food on a river. Rabbit attacked us; don't know vat happened to Meester Kehaar. I left him, nuzzing I could do.
"I'm sorry, Meester Fiver."
Fiver was silent. There was little doubt in his mind that the 'wild crazed rabbit' with the bravery and vengeance to attack two gulls was anyone but former-General Woundwort. But Fiver knew the gull had survived, he felt it every time Bigwig asked him. The gull had survived.
Gelaar stopped not far from the warren on Fiver's instructions. He felt Bigwig was not currently up to seeing a gull so alike Kehaar, and besides that, the small rabbit had a plan.
The next evening's silfay, Fiver did not join Bigwig as was his custom but crept round the back of the hill where already Blackberry and Silver waited on their haunches. He quietly greeted them; enquiring if any of the others he had requested were coming.
It was Silver who answered, "Holly promised to be along later. Thethuthinnang is coming, she says she wants to know what's going on. If it's to do with Bigwig she's willing to come. If it stops him 'moping'..." he trailed off as a doe lolloped up the hill.
"Vilthuril," Fiver turned in modest delight at his mate. "I wasn't sure..."
She rubbed noses, "I'm not letting you out on your own. Jinal can look after his siblings if we have to go."
"We're leaving?" Silver asked.
"Maybe." Was the only reply he got.
Blackberry cautiously asked, "Whatever you're up to Fiver, have you spoken to Hyzenthlay-rah?"
Fiver avoided the rabbit's gaze, "What about Matte?"
Silver shook his head, "She's helping Hyzenthlay."
Simultaneously, the ragged gull and two other rabbits arrived, from different directions. Thethuthinnang looked at him in astonishment, she stared first at him then at Vilthuril, "You meant it? We're searching for Kehaar?"
Gelaar bobbed his head, "Jah, Meester Five, vat goes on?"
Fiver looked from one animal to another, "He's alive. And... Bigwig's no use, he's mourning him... I don't want to get his hopes up, but I know Kehaar's alive."
Bluebell, who had come with Holly, thumped his back legs enthusiastically. "What are we waiting for? Let's find Bigwig's-" he was cut off by another blow from Holly. He yelped in mock pain. "I'll shut up, I'll shut up."
Fiver nodded. "Anyone who wants to come, meet me here. We leave as Frith next rises."