Done for ATLA Land's past/future contest. This fic is a little different than the one in the comm, because I had to pair down the word count to submit. This is the full version.
His first memories are of warmth and the smell of his mother. He is still new to the world – a mewling ball of fur with closed eyes and ears – but he can smell where the food is and he can feel the difference between his mother's warm body and the colder, empty portions of the nest.
And for him, that is enough.
He hardly notices the others at all, at first. As his eyes and ears open he sees other forms nearby and hears their hungry squeaks. He is growing all the time and suddenly the others are in the way when it comes to feeding.
He pushes and they push back.
Eventually pushing turns into toothless nipping. Nipping turns into loud screeches and rapid flapping of still forming wings. And that turns into wrestling.
He has one brother and two sisters, and he is stronger than them all.
There is another who is allowed to visit the nest. This male is even larger than Mother and has the same familiar scent about him that he also smells in himself.
This is Father and he is the first to bring solid food.
Father sets a strange, round object in the middle the nest. All of the little ones scurry to the edge in alarm, but Father makes a soft croon of reassurance and pushes it forward slightly with his nose. The round thing makes and alarming, rolling motion.
He is the first to approach, but cautiously, feeling his sisters trembling at his back. The scent of the round thing is something alien, but wild and intoxicating at the same time. He gets close enough to sniff at it, and then prod with one finger. It does not prod back.
Father croons once more in encouragement and his strong paws rip away a chuck for him. The meat on the inside glistens slightly in the gloomy half-light of the nest, and the texture is chewy and sweet and the best thing he has ever tasted.
Moon peaches will always be his favorite.
Mother's milk has stopped flowing, Father has not brought food and he is hungrier than he has ever been before.
The nest, which always seemed impossibly big, felt cramped lately with hardly any room to move. It is nothing more than a shallow cave in the wall – shielded from the elements on the inside, but ending in a step drop-off of more than fifty-feet down.
He and his siblings crowd at the edge of the drop, squeaking their hunger. Mother and Father are outside, perched on the branch of a nearby tree. His parents call back to them, and occasionally one or the other will dart from their branch to fly up to the nest and back again.
His siblings jostle each other towards the edge, but when he finally takes the leap from the cliff it is by his choice. There are several sickening seconds when the ground is rushing up faster than he can even think – then the loose skin under his arms billow out and cushions the air. He glides straight for the tree and Father greets him with a fresh moon-peach.
From that day on, he never fears falling again.
There are many things to learn and do now that he is outside the nest. Mother and Father show how to scratch the best nuts from pinecones, to only eat the red-rip berries, and where the sweetest water comes bubbling up from the ground.
As the days grow shorter, his soft gray baby-fur is replaced by a more luxurious white coat of white. The snows come every day now – the winds howling through empty stone passageways and towering spires.
Food is hard to find, but his new, thicker coat helps to keep out the chill. He is always warmest though, at night, with his family.
They sleep in a bundle of warm body-heat and he knows he is safe.
The days grow longer again and bits of green and brown start to poke out of what had seemed to be an endless eternity of snow. Father and Mother spend more time alone now, and Mother makes annoyed chitters any time anyone approaches the nest.
Today he and his siblings are playing among the last of the snow-heavy bushes – hopping from branch to branch to send showers of white, powdery snow down to the earth. And if it can land on another's head… so much the better.
Suddenly, one of his sister's sits up and squawks in alarm. There is a stranger sitting no more than twenty yards away on a rocky outcropping. His sister's fur is puffed out in agitation, and she scolds the stranger soundly… but the stranger ignores her.
Curious, he separates from his siblings and comes closer to investigate. The wind shifts and his nose tells him the stranger is a female, but not Mother and not like his sisters. She is still sitting there and as he approaches he sees she is grooming her ears.
The female freezes when she notices his approach. They stare at each other for a few endless seconds and then in a moment she is up in the air, quicker than he has ever seen before.
She makes a graceful loop-de-loop before flapping away.
It takes him two days to find her. He has never been out of his own territory before, and he meets other females. They do not have her scent, though, and ultimately he moves on.
She is laying out in the warm early-spring sun when he spots her at last. He lands, chirping a greeting with his chest puffed out and full of his own success. She only flicks her tail lazily at him, and in a moment she is in the sky.
But he has seen this trick from her before and he jumps into the air after her.
She leads him on a merry chase. This is her territory and she dives under stone archways, zooms across barren fields and untended orchards. It takes everything he has, but he keeps up with her and at the end she flutters down, panting upon the bough of an old knobby tree.
The branches are heavy with peaches. He picks one and offers it to her with a bob of his head. She takes it between her paws and bites into it with gusto, spilling sweet juice down the sides of her mouth.
He is in love.
The days of summer are the longest in the year, but time still seems to slip by with unnatural speed.
He and the female find a nicely worn hole in the face of what had once been a temple. They set about hollowing it out and then lining the inside with twigs, leaves and moss. The female adds a layer of soft fur from her own belly as the final touch.
Her stomach is swelling now, and the fur itches there anyway.
They are sleeping, curled up about one another, when he is awoken by her coughing.
It is a dry, painful sort of cough that doesn't leave her the next day. Soon, her fur is falling out in more patches and her eyes are dull with lethargy. As the days pass, she coughs with every other breath and her swelling belly flattens out again.
She lies listless in a nest of their own making and when he brings her a peach, she can barely lift her head to eat.
He wakes up to find her cold and still.
He stays with her body for three days. On the forth, he spreads his arms and flies away, looking back only once.
He travels back to the territory where he was born, where the memory of his siblings and parents are still fresh. He does not realize at first that there is no one there to greet him. It is beyond him to know that the deadly cough did not only strike down his mate.
He only knows that no one answers his calls. The temple is silent and dead and he is alone.
The snows come again. There is no one to curl up with. He is cold.
The silence is broken one day without warning. Four creatures come – two in blue and two that can fly… although not as well as he can. He follows them in secret as they explore, play and chatter among themselves.
The flying lemur, later to be called Momo, watches them and wonders if they like moon-peaches.