Next Stars

A/N: Already on part 3 of the story and boy am I enjoying it! *sighs* Though I didn't watch the show, I've read about it and, golly, it's actually really good! It's almost similar to the book but I find it hilarious that Blackberry had a gender swap.

Anywho, I did some 'extensive' research to check if Hazel had some kits and it was only revealed in the show. Snowdrop, Mallow & Gilia. Cute. I never saw them but if you did, please don't be too mean. I'm a very sensitive person. :P

Disclaimer: I neither own Watership Down nor Muhammad Ali's quote.

His raw tender muscles screamed and begged for his mercy to cease this unfair brutality against them, but he would hear none of it. He simply would not. This was his moment and he – without anything in the world to stop him – would finally prove it. He will not let this golden opportunity slide away. Nor will he let his sisters down. And neither will they him.

The afternoon breeze was at its optimum and Mallow, grateful to its warmth and comfort, kept a clear steady mind as he crouched lightly, taking the time to assess his lush surroundings for an opening. Ahead of him, slightly on the right, was Gilia – also crouched low and waiting. And finally, a little further on the left, was Snowdrop – the only one who was sitting up straight but also, like the rest of her siblings, kept a sharp fixed gaze upon their sole opponent in the centre.

Famed for his intellect and dexterity, the legendary chief rabbit sat still on the fertile grass, holding each of his kits' gazes within his own as he waited calmly – waiting, daring for one of them to make the next move. But of course, he will not underestimate them. This was the perfect moment for him to finally witness their inner Bigwigs flare.

And he did. Though not yet masterful of their tactics, they've indeed not once proved to be sloppy or clumsy in their attacks or strategies. They were so full of promises and light that even Bigwig, now and then, continuously praise and chatter non-stop about their talents – even though he was the one who had started training them from the very moment they had reached the right age. And Hazel, proud as any father would be, did his part for his kits to be aware of his pride and encouragement. This new generation definitely seemed very fulfilling.

Snowdrop, Gilia and Mallow, all three of them bore new scratches and half hearted bites from him. But Hazel himself wasn't quite a healthy sight. Now and then, as he ducked and hopped and dashed, a few combo claw slashes awaited him on the other side and he would – by Frith's grace – brush them off as though such pains were like second nature to him, but of course, within, he was glowing with pride with every passing little breeze that caressed his sleek honey fur.

And though he had never seen himself as an extraordinary fighter like most of his friends, dodging and evading tactics had always been his speciality. His brain had always been and will always be his most faithful ally. And a miniature portion of this trusty ally now, was slightly dubious of the fact that he had actually pushed himself into this type of situation of his own accord. But then the bigger portion swiftly took over, reassuring it continually that the master simply wanted nothing more but to witness and feel the pain and claws of his own blood – as afather, he was aching to know how his kits were faring, their progresses - why, he even wanted to see the blazing determination in their eyes.

And by the grace and mercy of Frith, Hazel's prayers and wishes were finally answered as he inwardly beamed proudly at his kits.

Hasty thuds on the soft ground at last. A sharp intake of breath followed by a swift duck from a lightning strike of a downy paw. Eyes settling on the other two kits, Hazel braced himself for an invisible impact before swiping a paw across Snowdrop's muzzle. While she ducked, the other two siblings quickly ran, willing to collide into their father's sides. 'Evading tactic' set in motion. Jumping back, Hazel retreated a couple of steps and paused slightly, definitely beaming this time. They were as strong as they were as quick at dodging and thinking, alright. How proud he was of them...

But then he frowned. His eyes scanned over Gilia's visage. "Do not allow your concentration to sway Gilia," he said.

His daughter's features remained hesitant and shy. "But you're limping father," she said quietly.

Quite rightly he was. "Though I believe I should feel a little disappointed with you, I must say that I'm impressed. I've hardly given any thought of it until you've mentioned it. You've got excellent vision little one and if I were an elil..."

"I would've instantly used this weakness to my advantage," Gilia replied automatically.

"Precisely," Hazel nodded. "I think we should call it a day now, don't you?" he added, looking up at the mighty golden globe in the vast sea of blue.

"Yes," answered Snowdrop. "I think we should."

"Agreed," said Mallow.

"My dear kits," Hazel said, looking down on them once more. "How proud I am of you. Your performances today have excelled my every expectation. You have all done fantastic. All of you. I'm very proud."

All three brother and sisters paused at the unexpected praise – until Mallow suddenly ran forwards and pressed his face into the soft flank of his father, nuzzling his face into the soft fur. Snowdrop and Gilia followed suit, but with their strengths combined, they were able to topple Hazel onto the cool grass.

"Thank you father," Snowdrop said, lying down to rest next to Hazel. "It means a great deal to us all."

"Yes," said Gilia, also lying down to rest next to her father. "But it's also thanks to Master Bigwig."

"Without him, we wouldn't have been this strong," Mallow added.

Hazel gently licked the heads of his kits affectionately. "Of course, of course, but everything else was down to you. Master Bigwig was simply to guide you in the right path. And you've chosen very well my dears."

"It's just so wonderful to hear that coming from you father," Mallow said.

"Of course, I'm a very special fellow," Hazel felt his eyelids grow heavy. With the warmth of his darling kits flanking him on each side and the front, he couldn't resist the sudden fatigue that overwhelmed him. And he was certain that his kits were feeling the same way too.

"We'll see you in the evening father," Gilia said, her exhaustion very vibrant in her mellow words.

"Sleep well father," Mallow said, nuzzling his face one last time against Hazel's furry chest.

"We'll make you even prouder of us father," Snowdrop said, also nuzzling her face against Hazel's side.

Hazel shut his eyes. "That, is something you've already done since the day Lord Frith had sent you to us," everything felt so right then – and then sweet darkness finally cloaked his mind and soul, finally pulling him into sweet slumberland...

A/N: What a load of hraka.