A/N: This takes place three years after the events of Darkhaven. This will also be the LAST chapter I write for Prince Rainbow's Blessing. Thank you to everyone who stuck it out this long!
-Sarlil = Parents
-Èanparli = Grandfather
-Èanmarli – Grandmother
Bonus Chapter-Family Reunion
It was a beautiful summer day on Watership Down. The sun shone with a pleasant intensity, and a gentle breeze brought with it the sweet smells of nature. Aside from the sounds of birds chirping softly, the world was at peace.
"Sunflower! Come quick!"
Mostly at peace.
Sunflower's ears perked as Pipkin's voice reached him. He looked around where he was lying with Glade and his daughters as Pipkin ran up to him. "Pipkin? What's wrong?"
"Sunflower, I discovered some humans at the base of the hill when I was on patrol! I already told Hazel and Bigwig, and they've gone ahead to scope them out. They want you to meet them down there as soon as you can."
Sunflower nodded quickly. "Alright, Pipkin, I'm on my way. Get everyone inside the warren, and tell the owsla to be ready to evacuate in case something goes wrong." He waited for Pipkin to nod before he bolted down the hill in the direction Pipkin indicated. Sunflower caught Hazel's scent in no time, and before long, he was crouched in the bushes with Bigwig and the chief. "What's going on guys?"
Hazel gestured beyond the bushes the three were hiding in. "There are three humans just…standing there. They've been talking to each other for a while and keep pointing at the warren. We can't understand human speech, so we were hoping you could tell us what they're saying."
"No problem," Sunflower replied. "I'm just going to get a little closer so I can hear better, and…and…" Sunflower drifted off as he got a good look at the humans.
Bigwig nudged his friend to try and get his attention. "Sunflower, what's wrong? Do they have weapons? Are they going to attack the warren?!"
"No," Sunflower said slowly, "they're my family." Before Hazel or Bigwig could respond, Sam had hopped out of the bushes and towards the humans, who he could now hear were arguing over something.
"No, Martha, we can't just go waltzing up there," Sunflower's father, John, said. "Even though they're friends with Sam, I doubt the rabbits in that warren will take very kindly to us suddenly showing up at their doorstep. The best thing to do would be to wait for them to come to us. I'm certain they've noticed us by now."
Sunflower's sister, Molly, was looking around instead of trying to argue with her parents. Her eyes widened slightly as she quickly noticed Sunflower. "Well that one is coming to us. Does that count as being notice?" Her parents looked over to where she was pointing, where Sunflower stood staring at them in shock.
John crouched down to get a good look at Sunflower. "Let's see, this one doesn't look anything like any of the rabbits the book or TV show described. So you're…Sam?"
"DAMN YOU, JOHN!"
All four of them jumped as a voice boomed from the sky. In a flash of bright light, Prince Rainbow appeared floating next to Sunflower. He was glaring at the male human.
"DID FRITH NOT MAKE IT FAIRLY OBVIOUS THAT HE DID NOT WANT YOU ALL TO COME HERE? THE AIRPORT "LOSING" YOUR LUGGAGE? THE HOTEL "FORGETTING" YOUR RESERVATION? YOUR RENTAL CAR "ACCIDENTALLY" BREAKING DOWN? WAS ALL OF THAT TOO SUBTLE FOR YOU?"
Martha stared in shock at the tiny human in a rainbow robe floating next the rabbit. "John…what's going on? What is that thing?"
"This is Prince Rainbow. Or he's my great great grandfather, Max, whichever you prefer. You remember I mentioned him after you thought Sam died?"
"That was the time you turned into a rabbit, right?" Molly asked.
"YES, THAT WAS MY DOING," Prince Rainbow responded. "I GAVE YOUR FATHER HIS POWERS BACK FOR A BIT SO THAT HE WOULD BE ABLE TO CONVINCE YOU THAT HE WAS NOT LYING ABOUT YOUR BROTHER." Prince Rainbow shifted his attention back to John. "AND HE KNOWS THE RULES ABOUT VISITING. NAMELY, HOW IT IS NOT ALLOWED!"
"Why not?" Sam interjected. "I can see why that wouldn't have been allowed in the past, but I beat Ira, so why do we need to bother keeping this stuff private from my family?"
"THAT'S HOW IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN DONE. CONTACT WITH THE MESSENGER-TURNED-RABBIT IS STRICTLY LIMITED."
Molly whispered to her mother, "Is that little man talking to that rabbit?"
"I…think so," Maggie replied, confusion written on her face.
"Come on, Max," John pleaded, ignoring his wife and daughter, "cut us a break. We came all this way, would you really turn us away now?"
Prince Rainbow looked to the sky for a minute before he responded. "FINE. FRITH SAYS YOU HAVE ONE DAY, THAT'S IT. YOU, MAGGIE, AND MOLLY WILL ALL RECEIVE THE ABILITY TO HEAR AND SPEAK LAPINE SO YOU AND SAM CAN TALK. AFTER TODAY, YOU ARE TO GO HOME AND NEVER RETURN TO THIS COUNTRY. IF YOU TRY AND COME BACK HERE, YOU MAY FIND THAT YOUR PLANE HAS SOME ENGINE ISSUES. AM I UNDERSTOOD?"
John's eyes widened. "Um, yeah. We get it. Thanks, Max."
Prince Rainbow allowed a ghost of a smile to spread on his face. "HAVE FUN." With that, he floated up to eye level with the humans. He pointed his hands at them, and a blue light shot out of his palms, hitting John, Maggie, and Molly in the forehead. The ladies yelped in surprise, while John merely smiled. With a nod of his head, Prince Rainbow disappeared with another flash.
"Did it work?" Sam asked. His question was answered for him when his mother and sister's heads snapped around to gawk at him. "I guess so. Hi, Mom. Hi Molly. It's good to see you two again."
Maggie's eyes glistened with tears when she heard the familiar voice. "S-Sam? Is that really you?"
"Yeah, Mom," Sunflower replied around the lump forming in his throat, "it's really me. Frith above, I never thought I'd see you again."
Ignoring her mother, Molly knelt down next to her brother. "Oh my gosh, Sam, you're so cute! This is a big improvement over when you were a human." She reached over to pat Sunflower on the head, but the rabbit pushed her hand away.
"Molly, please don't pet me." Seeing the girl frown slightly, Sunflower hopped over and nuzzled her knee. "But it's good to see you too. I've missed having my annoying little sister around."
The family fell silent as whispers floated over from the bushes where Sam had emerged.
"Friends of yours?" John asked with a smirk.
"Some of the best." Sunflower turned toward the bushes. "Hazel, Bigwig, you know we can hear you, right?" The whispers suddenly fell silent. Sunflower sighed. "I'll be right back." He hopped over and stuck his head in the bushes to find Hazel and Bigwig staring back at him with wide eyes. "Are you two okay?"
"What do you mean they can hear us?" Hazel asked after a moment. "Does this have something to do with Prince Rainbow appearing? He was speaking human language, so we could only understand you."
Sunflower glanced back to the humans with a wide smile. "You guys, those are my parents and my sister! They came all the way here to visit me, and Prince Rainbow just came by to give them permission to stay for the day. He also gave them that power I used to use as a human that let me speak and understand lapine, so yeah, they can hear you."
"We can hear you pretty well, actually," Molly called over. "You're being kind of loud."
"Molly, shush," Maggie replied. "Give Sam a moment to speak with…whoever he's speaking with."
Sunflower sighed. "Yeah, that's my family. Do you guys want to meet them?"
Hazel shared a look with Bigwig for a moment before he sighed. "I suppose I probably should. I just hope you're right about them, Rusatitha."
"Don't worry, Hazel, I promise you'll be alright. How about you, Bigwig?"
The owsla captain shook his head. "I don't think so, Sunflower. If they're related to you and not a threat to the warren, then I'm fine with them being here. But I'm not alright with being so close to a bunch of humans, sorry."
Sunflower nodded. "It's alright, Bigwig, I understand. If you could tell everyone up at the warren that they aren't a threat, I'd really appreciate it. I left Pipkin rousing the owlsa into high alert. Are you ready, Hazel?"
The chief nodded hesitantly, while Bigwig turned to go back to the warren. The two rabbits emerged from the bushes, with Hazel nearly glued to Sunflower's side. Hazel eyed the humans warily, while they studied him with interest. "Sunflower," he whispered, "are you really sure about this? Humans almost killed you once…"
"The farmer almost killed me once," Sam whispered back, "and that's only because we steal food from him all the time." Before Hazel could reply, Sam addressed his family. "Hi, I'm back. A couple of my friends were hiding in the bushes keeping an eye on me, and one of them wanted to meet you. Hazel, this is my father, John, my mother, Maggie, and my sister, Molly. Mom, Dad, and Molly, this is Hazel, the chief of our warren, and my rusatitha."
John bowed his head with a smile. "Frithaes, Hazel-rah. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Despite knowing that John had once been a rabbit the same as Sunflower, Hazel was still surprised to hear a traditional lapine greeting from a human. "Er…yes, you as well. Please forgive me. Having humans this close to our warren is a little…nerve-wracking. Although Sunflower assures me you mean us no harm."
"I can understand that," John replied. "Back when I was Messenger, the warren I stayed at was in a national park just outside of Berlin, so there were humans around constantly. It always made the rabbits nervous when they got too close. But I promise, we'll stay down at the base of the hill and away from the warren itself. Hopefully that will be enough to put your rabbits' minds at ease."
"I believe it would," Hazel said a little more confidently, quickly warming up to the large human. "Thank you, John. I really am pleased to meet you all. During his earlier days at Watership Down, Sunflower would talk about you all the time."
"Hold on a second," Molly interrupted, "who's Sunflower?"
Sunflower sighed and waved a paw. "That would be me. I needed a more rabbit-like name to go with my rabbit body, and that was the first thing I blurted out. It just…ended up sticking."
Molly struggled to hold in her laugher. "Don't worry, I think it's an adorable name. Sunflower!" With that, the teenager was unable to control herself any longer and dropped to her knees in laughter.
Hazel turned to Sunflower with a guarded look on his face. "Is she…mocking your name, Rusatitha?"
"It's a silly name from a human point of view," Sunflower replied. "Don't be offended, Hazel, I'm certainly not. Besides, it's part of her job as my little sister to annoy me in whatever way she can."
"Pardon me, Hazel," Maggie said, speaking up for the first time since Hazel joined them, "but what was that you called Sam? Rusatitha? I think I heard Sam say the same thing earlier."
Sunflower and Hazel shared a look before Sunflower answered. "Yeah, Mom. It's a name that two rabbits give each other when they care deeply for each other, on the same level as immediate family. The reason it isn't translating to English for you because it isn't so much a word as it is an official title. It roughly translates to heart-brother."
Maggie looked slightly shocked. "Oh my. That's…um…"
Molly's eyes were as wide as her mother's. "Wait a minute, you're gay now too?!"
This time it was John's turn to laugh uncontrollably while Sam stared at his sister, dumbfounded. "That…That's not it at all!" he insisted. "The heart-brother bond means we're exceptionally close, yes, but that's not a part of it!"
"I don't understand what's going on," Hazel said, confused.
Sam sighed heavily as an embarrassed blush spread across his face. "They think we're mates," he muttered.
A matching blush erupted across Hazel's face. "Oh dear Frith. I don't think Primrose would be very happy about that. Or Glade either, for that matter."
"Glade would kill me," Sunflower agreed. "Actually, she'd probably kill you first."
"Hey wait a second," John said, still catching his breath, "I recognize that name. Isn't Glade that doe you asked about back at the hospital?"
This caught the attention of Molly and Maggie, and the two listened with undivided attention as Sunflower was put in the spotlight. Sunflower was suddenly aware of the fact that none of his family knew he had a mate. Or children. "Yeah, Dad, she's the one I asked about. She's…well…she's the main reason I stayed. We became mates about two months after I made the decision to stay."
"You got married!?" Maggie exclaimed.
Sunflower chuckled. "Yeah, I have kids too."
Maggie almost collapsed on the spot. "Why didn't you tell us? I mean, I know why you didn't, but you could have…I mean…" She stopped and took a deep breath as John rubbed her shoulder. Finally, she managed to speak. "Bring them here. I have to meet them."
"Well Mom, I'm sure Glade would like to meet you," Sam explained, "but you can't just-"
"Bring her here this instant!" Maggie pointed to the top of the hill. "You may be a rabbit living in England, but you're still my son. You will let me meet my…my rabbit daughter-in-law, now march!"
Sunflower sighed before turning to Hazel. "Think you'll be alright alone with them for a couple minutes?"
"I believe so," the chief said with a nod. "They seem nice, if a little…foreign."
"I'll see if I can get Glade to come down, but I'm not bringing the girls down until Glade says it's alright." Seeing Maggie about to protest, Sunflower pushed on. "No, Mom, it's non-negotiable. Yes, Glade and I are mates, but she's still going to be uncomfortable around normal humans. If she doesn't feel okay with it, then you can't meet the girls, I'm sorry."
"I…I understand," Maggie replied with a combination of sadness and pride. She chuckled slightly. "I suppose that just gives me all the more reason to be nice, doesn't it? Please, Sam, I'd love to meet her."
"Alright," Sam replied with a smile, "I'll be right back." He turned and made for the warren, leaving his family to chat with Hazel. Upon cresting the hill, he found some of the rabbits waiting for him. Glade included.
"Sunflower, what's going on?" she demanded. "Bigwig came up a little bit ago and called off the human alert saying it was your parents? But that couldn't be possible…"
Sunflower chuckled. "No, he's got it completely right. My parents actually found the down, and came to visit me. Prince Rainbow popped down, says they only have this one day to visit with me, gave them all my blue power so they can speak and understand lapine, then popped back off. Also, my mom really wants to meet you." He waited for the doe to respond, but she just kept staring at him. He waved a paw in front of her face. "Glade? Are you okay?"
"Y-Your parents are here," Glade replied slowly, "and they want to meet me. Your parents. Your human parents. Are…here…"
Sensing an impending panic, Sunflower moved next to his mate and nuzzled her under the chin, "Hey now, it's not that bad. I promise they're friendly. Heck, they're down there talking with Hazel right now."
"But they're humans, Sunflower!" she protested. "What if they don't like me? What if they think I'm not good enough for you, or…or…"
Sunflower touched his nose to hers, silencing her. "Glade, everything is going to be alright. They're alright, I promise. I know for a fact that they're going to love you, and even if they don't…" Sunflower paused for a moment as a sad look crossed his face, "even if they don't, we won't ever see them again, so it won't matter." Seeing Glade looking at him sadly, Sunflower flashed her a smile. "I know it's asking a lot, but I'd like you to meet them. Just this once?"
Seeing the pleading look on Sunflower's face, Glade sighed. "You're lucky I love you," she muttered.
Sunflower smiled and nuzzled her again. "Believe me, I know it." He continued talking as the pair made their way down. "Also, they'd like to meet our daughters at some point, but I told them that would depend on you. If you aren't alright with them, then the girls can stay up here on the down."
Glade nodded with a smile on her face. "Thank you, Sunflower. I admit that they make me a little nervous."
"Don't worry," Sunflower replied, "I'll be right beside you the whole time. Are you ready to go?"
"As ready as I'll ever be, I suppose."
With a nod, Sunflower turned and led his mate down the hill. Sunflower's family could be seen almost immediately, tall as they were. As the pair drew closer, they could hear Hazel telling them a story, with the group of humans struggling to hold in their laughter.
"…and then he comes sprinting up the hill, face all charred up, and yells, 'I can breathe fire guys!'" The family burst into laughter. "We told him he had to watch the wind direction next time, otherwise he would end up setting himself on fire!" With a perk of his ears, Hazel heard Sunflower and Glade approaching. "Oh hello again, Sunflower. Your family wanted to hear some stories about you on the down."
"Did you seriously breathe fire?" Molly asked doubtfully, but still laughing from Hazel's story. "That's a little hard to believe."
Sunflower smiled in return. "It's true, I did. I also killed a demon of rage by shooting it with a rainbow, but really, you didn't come this way to hear that boring story. Guys, this is my mate, Glade. Glade, these are my parents and sister."
After Sunflower told Glade their names, the doe nodded to them shyly. "Hello. It's very nice to meet you all. Sunflower has told us all so much about you. I…I never thought I would actually be able to meet you though."
John knelt down in front of her with a wide smile on his face. "It's our pleasure to meet you, Glade. When Sam mentioned you in the hospital, I had my suspicions about why he went back. It's wonderful to have the opportunity to meet you."
With John's help breaking the ice, Glade quickly grew to like the three humans, and was chatting amiably.
Almost an hour of talking later, Sunflower and Molly walked off on their own for a bit, leaving Glade and Hazel to talk with John and Maggie. The siblings walked for a few moments in silence, enjoying each other's company after so long apart.
"This is weird, Sam," Molly eventually said with a small smirk on her face.
He chuckled in reply. "Yeah, I imagine it is."
"It's one thing to be told that your brother got turned into a rabbit and is living in England, but seeing it firsthand is just…weird."
"Still, I'm glad I got to see you again, Molly. I hope it wasn't too hard. With me being gone and all."
A hint of a smile ghosted on Molly's face. "It was rough, for a while. All my friends at school kept telling me how sorry they were, and to come talk to them if I needed anything. And of course all I could do is play along. There's no way I could tell anyone the truth." She chuckled. "Although after what that little rainbow guy said, I'm not certain I would have lived through telling anyone the truth." Molly sat on the ground, resting her back against a tree. "It just would have been nice to have someone to talk to, you know? Dad tried his best, and he did help, but it just wasn't the same without you." Molly turned her head away from Sam as a tear slid down her cheek. "Damn it, I missed you, Sam."
Sunflower hopped onto Molly's lap and stretched up, wrapping his forelegs around her neck. "Hey…come on now, don't cry," Sunflower said, trying to comfort his sister. "Molly, I can't imagine what you guys went through back home, and I'm sorry. I thought of you every day while I was here-"
"Then why didn't you come home?!" Molly shouted suddenly. "Dad told us you made the choice to stay here. Why…was it really worth it?"
"Yes," Sunflower replied without hesitation. "Molly, I missed you and Mom and Dad so much, but this…this is where I knew I belonged. When I met Glade…everything just…clicked. I didn't mean to abandon you, but…I'm sorry, Molly."
There were a few moments of silence between them.
"She's really that important to you?" Molly asked with a glance. "More important than your family?"
"Molly, she is my family. Glade, and Hazel, and my daughters, and everyone on the down. They mean the world to me. They were there for me when no one else was. They stayed by my side, even when their lives, their souls were at stake! I…I owed them everything. I still owe them everything. I love them. All of them."
Molly gave him a sad smile. "Yeah, that sounds pretty great. You'll have to tell us the full story sometime. It sounds pretty insane. But still, some days I…I can't help but wish you hadn't stayed here. That you had come back with us."
"Don't say that!"
Sunflower and Molly jerked their heads in surprise. Suddenly, a young rabbit jumped out from some nearby bushes and glared at Molly. She was followed more slowly by three other rabbits, all of which shot guilty looks Sunflower's way.
"Stop being so mean to my parli!" Laurel yelled. "I don't care what you say, I'm glad he came to Watership Down! Otherwise he would have met Marli, and…and…" She slowly tapered off when she saw the look Sunflower was giving all of them.
"Girls," he began crossly, "did you mother say you could come down here?"
Sunflower sighed heavily. "Girls, what have I told you about stay away from danger? I know some of you are in the junior owsla, but that doesn't mean you can just go wandering off wherever you please. And let me guess, Laurel: your idea?"
Laurel's ears wilted. "I…sorry, Parli."
Sunflower shook his head slightly. "Well…I guess there's no harm done. And since you're all down here, I suppose I should introduce you to your aunt."
"What?!" Molly exclaimed. "These…these are…so 'parli' means…"
Sunflower chuckled. "Yeah, it means 'father.' Molly, these are my daughters." He gestured to the one standing in front of the others. She was the biggest, and took strongly after her mother. "This is Laurel." The next doe was almost as tall as Laurel, but where her sister was muscular, she was tall and lanky. "That's Hraya." The third was standing a bit apart from the others, inspecting every detail of Molly with intelligent eyes. "Mira." Sunflower's last daughter, the smallest of the four, was staring at Molly warily while half hiding behind Hraya. "And that's Lily there in the back. Girls, say hello to your Aunt Molly."
Molly had only a moment before Laurel and Hraya bounded over to her and began bombarding her with questions, followed more slowly by Mira and Lily. Once they were introduced and no longer believed Molly was angry at Sunflower, the four does chattered at the girl constantly, frequently talking over one another. Sunflower chuckled at his sister's attempt to keep up with her nieces before he heard another rustling in the bushes and turned to see Glade enter the clearing where they were all sitting.
The doe let out a sigh. "I just knew they were going to do this. But it's fine. Sunflower, your sarlil are wonderful people. I would love them to meet the girls. Girls! Leave your aunt alone! There are two more people for you to meet, come on!"
Hearing their mother's words, the four girls thanked Molly and ran after Glade, each nuzzling Sunflower as they walked by. Sunflower watched his family go with a smile before turning back to Molly. He chuckled at the slightly stunned look on her face.
"Yikes, Sam," she said after a moment. "Those girls are…"
"A handful," Sunflower supplied, "I know. But I love them to death, and wouldn't trade them for anything."
Molly stood up and dusted herself off. "Yeah, I can see that. You seem really happy when you're with them, Sam."
"I am, Molly," Sunflower replied with a large smile on his face. "I'm happier than I ever have been in my life."
"Then…I suppose I'm alright with your choice. It seems like you made the right one. We should head back. Mom and Dad brought a ton of food so we could have a picnic. They said you could invite any of your rabbit friends that wanted to come too."
Sunflower smiled at that. "That's awesome! You go back, I'm going to head to the warren and see if anyone else wants to come."
The next few hours were filled with merriment and laughter as Sunflower's human family and his rabbit family came together. There were a number of rabbits that did not want to come, but Primrose, Blackavar, Gillia, Snowdrop, Clover, Blackberry, Fiver, and Pipkin all decided they would be brave and come meet the humans that raised one of their best friends. It was not long before the humans and rabbits were talking freely amongst each other, much to Sunflower's delight. He could not remember the last time he had a day this good. Sunflower's family took a number of pictures with themselves and the rabbits, to remember this impossibly amazing day.
But eventually, evening came, and it was time for Sunflower's family to leave.
Sunflower smiled sadly as his parents and sister knelt down so he could embrace them. "Thank you guys so much for coming. This…this was an amazing day. I love you all so much."
"Of course we came, Sam," John replied. "We had to come see you. It was the least we could do after you saved the world at all. I'm so proud of you, son."
"We all are," Maggie added. "You've made a wonderful life here, and I actually feel okay going home, because I know you have good friends and family watching out for you."
Molly sniffled before sweeping Sunflower off the ground. "I'm going to miss you, big brother. Take care of yourself."
Joyful tears rolled down Sunflower's face as he waved goodbye to his family. All his rabbit friends gathered close to him, doing their best to comfort Sunflower as he wished his birth family farewell. And even though Sunflower was sad to see them go, having this day of closure only made his life on Watership Down all the sweeter.