A/N - Well, here it is, the last TyChee chapter. I apologize for the delay guys. It was a combination of laziness, lack of material, and I was struggling with the decision of what to have Cheetara have, one baby or twins, etc. I finally just decided on one baby. I hope the name isn't too lame. It seemed appropriate.
NOTE: "Chuffing" (the sound Tygra will make in this chapter) is a sound that tigers make when they are especially happy, usually when greeting someone they really like, be it another tiger or a familiar human. Go on youtube, and you'll hear the sound I'm talking about. It's quite cute!
ALSO: I hope Cheetara's labor is believable enough. Some of the aspects of it, and other events in this story, are loosely based on my own experiences. But I had an epidural, so I may not have captured the true agony of it all. Sorry ladies, I'm a punk, lol.
Anyways, I have really enjoyed writing this story! I didn't even plan on making it into a multi-chapter, let alone 24! Your reviews and PMs have really made it worth while.
Thanks so much to all my peeps who stayed with me throughout the story:
lookforme (who needs to SIGN ON so I can thank her properly)
Luna de Papel
Dr. Facer (who gave me a great tip on making my story more readable)
Everyone's reviews, guests included, have been instrumental to my motivation to write and the success of this story.
Thanks so much for reading my story, and I hope you enjoy this chapter!
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Thundercats or have any affiliation with the creators, producers, etc., nor do I receive any compensation for this work.
Chapter 24 – Epilogue
Approximately 4 months later…
"Begin!" Cheetara called, signaling the young Cleric initiates to start their drills. This was one of her favorite tasks, to mentor the Young. It was one of the few duties that Jaga had allowed her to retain as her condition progressed. Talli was also there to assist her in demonstrating the movements Cheetara could not.
In addition to training and advising, Cheetara also helped Jaga with the administrative side of things, which was a big part of being Grand Cleric, even if she thought it fairly boring.
But her mentor had reminded her that someday she would be the one to take his place, him having groomed her to do so all these years. Even the boring duties were imperative.
So she endured the monotony of the life her advanced pregnancy had given her. Her frequent visits with Ona had yielded pleasing news that everything was going well, that the healer foresaw no problems.
As the training session concluded, Cheetara dismissed her students, joining Talli to talk and reflect on how the trainees were panning out. Many of them were promising, and Talli was excited by the prospect of mentoring some of them herself.
They were concluding their discussion, walking back towards the Hall, when Tygra appeared. He himself had just finished training some Soldiers, alongside Hadrian. The lion had been overjoyed at being offered his old role back in the Army.
Moreover, the Soldiers had been so excited to see their former captain, they had held a party for him that evening, celebrating deep into the night to welcome him back. Hadrian had been extremely touched by the gesture.
Though Tygra still held no trust for Tessa, the two males had grown a little closer over the months. The old animosity was fading into the background in the wake of more important things, the most urgent being a possible new threat to Thundera.
The lizards were amassing an army. Thunderian scouts had seen the legion, the assorted siege weapons, and a massive, malevolent, gloomy building that had resembled a pyramid of sorts. It was important now more than ever to put past squabbles to rest.
Thundera needed to be prepared, and with both Tygra and Hadrian working with the Army they had the best chance of being so. No one knew exactly what the lizards were preparing for, or if they would indeed set their sights on Thundera. But with the obvious differences in the quality of life of the species, it seemed the only logical outcome.
The land of cats was rich in resources whereas most of the other animals' lands were all but barren, its inhabitants struggling to survive. If the accounts of their numbers given by the scouts were any indication, the lizards had somehow managed to sustain themselves, perhaps by conquering other kingdoms.
Perhaps they would attack out of desperation for resources, power, or to expand their lands to more fertile areas. No one knew. All they could do was prepare.
Having the tiger prince and the Captain working with the Soldiers and formulating possible battle strategies, along with the assistance of Generals Lynx-O, Grune, and Panthro, would hopefully ensure that all went well in the event of an attack.
Tygra was especially concerned. He was about to finally have a family of his own, and to have that threatened so soon in its infancy was not something he could allow. The extra hours he spent helped, but he hated being away from Cheetara for such a long duration at such a crucial time.
Now he strolled up to her, eagerly gathering her in his arms. He smelled like a Soldier, a blend of sweat and exertion. Kissing her, he rubbed his face along her high cheekbones, chuffing as he did so. She wrinkled her nose at him when he pulled away.
"You need a bath, love," she chided him. He leaned in close to her ear. "I've been working hard. And now, you're all covered up with my scent, Stinky. What do you say we go home and clean each other up? I'll wash your back if you'll wash mine."
He wiggled his eyebrows at her playfully, his smile mischievous. He brought his hands to her distended belly, as was his ritual. "I'm sure the little one won't mind if we have a little quiet time together."
Talli, feeling justifiably awkward, decided it was the best time to take her leave. She cleared her throat audibly. "I think I'll go now, Mentor."
Tygra and Cheetara paused, both slightly embarrassed at having alienated their friend. "Oh, I'm so sorry Talli," Tygra sputtered. "I didn't mean to just barge into your conversation like that!" He laid a remorseful hand on the lynx's shoulder.
"It's okay, Highness," Talli said, grinning. "Really, it is. I needed to leave soon anyway. Jorel is expecting me." She bowed slightly to the prince then turned to Cheetara. "Until tomorrow, Mentor?" she asked.
"Yes. And Talli, we've dismissed the initiates. So lose the 'mentor,' would you?" She winked at her. The Cleric nodded, bowing teasingly to her friend and leaving with a smile.
Tygra watched her go before looking at Cheetara. "Well, mate, are you ready to head home?" He offered his elbow. Cheetara still got a jolt of excitement when he called her that.
Slipping her arm through his, the couple started making their way home to the palace. Though they still lived with Tygra's family, the king had been very generous, offering them the luxury and privacy of an entire wing within the castle to live. The two had been surprised and delighted at their luck.
Cheetara was able to design the nursery, selecting neutral colors pending the gender of their baby. Once it was known, more appropriate colors would be added. It was a highly exciting time for the soon-to-be parents, and they both played with, and at times argued over, possible names.
Neither was entirely sure what the cub would be called, but Cheetara had confidence that they would have the right name when the time came. Now, she concentrated on not waddling.
Tygra found it amusing, and would risk her wrath when he would highlight the times he'd caught her doing so.
It was a difficult task to avoid walking in such a way, because Cheetera's abdomen had all but doubled in size. She had made a steady size increase, maintaining that pregnancy "glow" the whole time. And then, in what seemed like overnight, she had just blown up!
Of course Tygra would never phrase it that way. His mate's nerves were already becoming a little frazzled as the time approached. But he wondered again at how large the cub would be and felt apprehension, hoping it would not be too much for Cheetara's petite frame.
Cheetahs were such delicate cats, and just the thought of there being any complications caused the fur on his arms to rise. If I lose her… He shook his head, banishing the thought, from his mind, refusing to acknowledge the possibility. Everything would go fine. It had to.
As they were walking, they made conversation, during which Cheetara told him of the slight cramping that she had been feeling for a few days now. It wasn't necessarily painful, especially not as painful as the sciatic spasms she sometimes endured, just noticeable enough for her to mention it to Ona.
The healer had told her that it was early signs of impending labor, a pre-labor of sorts. Upon examining the Cleric, Ona had told her she had already dilated 1 centimeter, so the process was moving along.
True labor symptoms would not commence until she was dilated to at least 4 centimeters, Ona told her. So Cheetara was sent home disappointed, ready for her baby to come.
She had stayed busy, sipping herbal potions the healer had given her to stave off some of the more painful early contractions. Ona had been delighted when she found her to be dilated 2 centimeters at her next exam. It wouldn't be long now.
"They've been getting more forceful," she explained to Tygra. "But taking a hot bath helps me feel better too." His hand tightened on hers as they walked, nearly at the palace now.
"Then it will be all the better when we get back and take our bath. I'll rinse the worst of the grime off first then join you." He smiled down at her, and they walked on in companionable silence.
When they were finally in their chambers, Tygra helped Cheetara disrobe, pausing to caress her large abdomen. It was still amazing and gratifying to him to see her swollen so. Watching the change had been a wondrous experience, one that he would never forget.
Despite her self-consciousness at her weight gain, she had only become more beautiful in Tygra's eyes.
He remembered when she had first felt the cub kick. The look on her face when she had rushed to tell him had warmed his soul. She had been so excited. Cheetara had told him that she had felt little twinges for some time, but these were true, solid movements.
When she had grasped his hand, placing it to actually feel the little pushes, his emotions had overflowed, and he had shed tears for the first time since being a cub himself, doing so without shame.
They had laid there in amazement, feeling the antics of their extremely active cub, both speechless in their happy astonishment. Tygra remembered thinking he could lay there, with his little family, for hours.
As her pregnancy had progressed, the kicking had become more vigorous, until he was finally able to see her belly poke out with a little appendage. The sight had been almost alien in appearance, but had pleased them nonetheless.
That memory brought a grin to his face as he ran his hands over her. "Are you alright, love?" Cheetara asked, noting his expression, his eyes resting where their baby nestled.
Tygra beamed up at her. "Nothing's wrong. I'm just excited. I can't wait to meet our baby. And I'm so awed by you."
He looked at her from her head to her abdomen. "You are so beautiful. You are positively glowing!" He grinned a little more lasciviously. "I think pregnancy suits you."
She pinned him with a stern look. "I hope that doesn't mean you'll be wanting to keep me this way all the time. You do know I have Clerical duties, right? And I fully intend to keep doing them in addition to being a mother!"
When he just continued to smile impishly at her, she hissed at him. He brought up his hands defensively. "Okay! I assure you that is not my plan. On my honor, I promise!" He held up one hand as though swearing an oath.
Cheetara let him off the hook, though her eyes were still narrowed at him suspiciously. Her temper had gotten even shorter of late, what with the cramps, failed attempts at not waddling, and the hip and back pains. Tygra knew it was best not to test her.
So he once again took her hand, using his thumb to caress it and hopefully calm her. He was taking her extremely variable moods in stride, employing as much patience and empathy as he could muster to keep everything peaceful.
It was what his father had advised, having dealt with their pregnant mother all that time ago. Tygra found he was a lot better off that way.
He just wanted to keep her safe and happy so that the rest of her pregnancy and birth would go over without any problems, so he tended to dote upon her, which was also something that got on her nerves from time to time. So he adjusted his attentions depending on her mood.
Helping Jaga had given her something with which to occupy herself, since boredom also soured her mood. Lying around being pregnant made her feel inept, so being useful helped immensely. Other than the rare emotional cataclysm, everything had gone normally.
They were learning new things about themselves as prospective parents, and both looked forward to seeing how they would step up to this new responsibility. It was sure to change them, make their minds work differently.
When she settled into her bath with a pleased sigh, Tygra made his way to the shower area. The new invention was perfect for quick washes, when time did not allow for languorously soaking in baths.
And it would also serve a cat that was too dirty to share a bath with his pregnant mate. Tygra made quick work of the day's filth before moving to the bath to glide in smoothly behind Cheetara.
He greeted her with a kiss to her nape, and her head came to rest against his shoulder. After taking the washing sponge from the edge of the bath, he began to gently scrub her with the lavender and chamomile soap that Ona had specifically prescribed for this purpose.
It relaxed Cheetara's mind and eased her sore muscles at the same time. And as her mate's large hands lathered her gently, she relaxed into him, her softness finding succor and strength in his hardness.
She began to drift off, dosing softly as Tygra worked the soap into a lather over her shoulders, under her breasts, and over her belly, his purrs making her as fluid as the bathwater in which they reclined.
He then turned his attention to her hair, gently squeezing water into her tresses and lathering the strands up as well. She hummed contentedly as he scratched her scalp, massaging the soap in thoroughly. He loved pampering her.
After rinsing the last of the soap from her hair and body, Tygra set it aside, bringing his hands across her belly and chest to cuddle her up closer against him. Nuzzling the area behind her delicate ear, he leaned in to speak to her.
"I love you so much, Che," he said softly, not knowing or caring if she could hear him. "You have made me so happy, so complete." When her hands came to rest over his, entwining their fingers, and her purring began to resonate against his chest, he smiled against her skin.
"And I love you," she responded, turning her head up to meet his kiss. They stayed that way for a while, the kiss gaining in soft passion, until they parted to soak in peaceful silence.
Ona had said that sex was not only safe, it could help quicken the birthing process, but neither wanted to chance causing any harm. And Cheetara was sometimes too tired, as she seemed tonight.
So the kiss was enough for them both. They spent the better part of an hour soaking in the hot water, Cheetara indicating she was ready to leave when she woke from her doze.
Tygra rose and fetched a large, fluffy towel, drying her off and draping it about her shoulders before grabbing his own. Together they entered their bedchamber.
He helped her to dress in the frost blue night gown she had started wearing to bed when her pregnancy had become too pronounced to wear her usual night pants.
It had been a gift from Tygra, and she had commented on how the fabric slid so easily against her, allowing her skin to breathe when she would have her heat spells.
Tygra dressed in a pair of loose-fitting pants that sat enticingly around his hips, snuggling close under the covers. Cheetara eyes closed almost as soon as her head hit the pillow, her mate's strong arms wrapped about her like a security blanket.
And just before she slipped into sleep, her last thought was that she couldn't have been happier.
The next morning, Cheetara was preparing what she would need for her lesson with the Initiates. She was feeling odd; her cramping had been getting steadily worse since she had awoken. Even Ona's potions had not relieved them.
Tygra had urged her to stay and rest, but she had insisted on going about her normal activities. Maybe some semblance of normalcy would keep her mind at ease and make her feel better.
She had been advised by Ona to try and stay as active as her condition would allow. But now, the Cleric was wondering if maybe she should have stayed in bed after all when she felt a sudden twinge in her lower abdomen, the strongest she'd ever felt.
Hearing her surprised cry, Talli approached quickly from just outside the room, making her way immediately to her side. "Cheetara! Are you alright?" The lynx positioned herself beside her friend and tried to support her in the case she felt faint.
"I don't know, Talli," Cheetara said, visibly shaken. "I've never felt anything like this before." With Talli's assistance, she made her way over to a chair to take a seat. "Maybe I just need to sit for a little while. I'm sure I'll feel better after a few moments."
Those hopes would be dashed however. She sat down just in time to feel a gush of fluid suddenly pour forth from her body, drenching her breeches and the floor beneath her.
Her eyes wide, Cheetara looked up at Talli, whose face was split with the widest, most excited grin she'd ever seen the young Cleric wear.
"It's time, Cheetara!" Talli said excitedly. "I'll go and get Ona!" With that, the Cleric disappeared, her speed almost rivaling Cheetara's own.
Only a few short moments passed before Jaga appeared. He had seen Talli rushing away from the Hall, and had known something had to have happened with his ward.
Entering the room, he placed his hand against Cheetara's back. "Are you alright, child?" he asked. She was taking deep breaths, trying to stay as calm as possible. He made note of the fluid on the floor.
"I think the cub is finally coming, Jaga," she said breathily, her eyes betraying her nervous excitement. She smiled at him anxiously, and he returned it, happy that her discomfort would soon be coming to an end, but worried for her labors.
He stayed by her side, holding her hand through the pains that had started. She bore them well, breathing calmly as they waited. Her tolerance for pain was high, having been a part of her training all these years. So it was nothing she could not handle for the moment.
Finally Talli came in, followed closely by Ona. The healer went straight to the Cleric and began asking questions about how far apart the contractions were, and if Cheetara was experiencing any pain.
Hearing that they were still fairly wide apart, the pain manageable, she and Jaga ushered Cheetara to her feet to begin the walk back to the palace, where they had set up the birthing room in the couple's wing.
They had wanted their baby born in a place that was comfortable for Cheetara, and nothing could be better than their home. So they walked slowly, stopping whenever she needed to. Fortunately, she did not have to often, and they made great progress.
Finally at the palace, they ran into a frantic Tygra, who had been given the news by a messenger boy sent by Talli when she had happened upon him on the palace grounds. He had found Tygra with Hadrian, instructing Soldiers on battle drills just as Talli had said.
Hadrian had clapped a shocked and frozen Tygra on the back, smiling widely. "You'd best get going, Dad!" Tygra had snapped out of it, and made his way quickly to the castle. Now he breathed a great sigh of relief at the sight of his mate, no worse for wear, with their closest friends.
He took Jaga's place at her side, and they finally made it to their destination, where Ona shooed the males from the room for the moment so Cheetara could change into a gown. It was white and of a thin fabric with a collar that opened wide.
Ona helped her lay back onto the bed, her hips elevated by a few pillows. Ona covered her with a blanket and let Tygra and Jaga back into the room. Tygra immediately took a seat next to Cheetara, rubbing her on the shoulder supportively.
"How you doing, babe?" he asked. He was relieved to be at her side. She smiled gratefully at him, her courage bolstered by his presence. Seeing his face had made her fear flee for the moment, and she relaxed against her pillows.
"So far I'm fine," she answered. "It's not so ba-" Her words were cut short when a particularly sharp contraction caught her. She started the breathing techniques that Ona had gone over with her, hoping to take the edge off it.
"Well, they weren't that bad," she said after it passed. She looked at the healer. "They're starting to get worse, Ona." The snow leopard came to stand at the end of her bed, lifting the covers to peer under them. Cheetara leaned forward, watching Ona's face for a reaction.
"You have dilated more," she said, smiling softly. "Looks to be about 7 centimeters; it won't be long now. Just continue breathing through the contractions, and let me know if you feel an urge to push. Everything is going just fine."
Cheetara laid back, Tygra at her side, her nerves frazzled but calm with those she loved around her. Talli approached with water, but was stopped by Ona, who told the Cleric that Cheetara should not have anything to eat or drink for now, as it could cause nausea.
So they stayed, Cheetara breathing through the increasingly painful contractions. They were growing ever closer together, and everyone knew things were about to get a lot less quiet.
Five hours later…
Cheetara threw herself back against the pillows, heaving a heavy sigh after a particularly tough time pushing. Ona had checked her again not more than three hours ago, and had excitedly told her it was time. By then the cheetah had been extremely relieved.
By that time, not only had the irresistible urge to push been present, the first real pain had also started. The contractions seemed to wrack her body with wave upon wave of agony. After a while she stopped trying not to moan.
Tygra was a supportive presence as always, lending her his strength and motivating her to keep going, wiping her sweaty forehead when she needed it. It was torture listening to her laborious moans and sometimes screams.
Ona was coaching her on, telling her that she saw the head, that the baby was positioned perfectly and to keep pushing. It was almost over, and Cheetara was tired, so tired. It felt now as though she would be ripped in half with each contraction!
It's taking so long. Maybe something is wrong, she thought in a panic. She looked at Tygra. "I don't know if I can do this," she said plaintively. Her eyes started to water. "Tygra, if I die…"
"Don't say that!" Tygra said, his tone the harshest she'd ever heard. "Nothing is going to happen. You heard Ona. Everything is fine. You just have to keep pushing." He stroked a hand through her sweaty hair.
"Besides," his eyes grew tender, anguished. "If I lost you, I wouldn't be long for this world. I would follow you. I can't lose you, Che. Not even to the other side." He once again grasped her hand, his face determined. "Now push, baby. I want to meet our cub. And you will be here to meet it too."
Cheetara took a moment to look at his reassuring smile before she resumed her efforts, straining to bring their baby into the world.
"Yes, that's it!" Ona cried. "I see the face! It's coming, Cheetara! Keep pushing!" Jaga came to Cheetara's other side, trying to mask his own anguish. "You are doing so well, child. Just think. Soon you'll be a mother. Keep it up!"
With that thought in mind spurring her on, the cheetah was able to give it that final push, her scream echoing off the walls as her toils finally pushed the wet, squalling cub into the world. Ona grabbed the cub gently, inspecting it closely as she cleared its mouth and nose.
Cheetara lay back, supremely relieved that the hardest part was over. The cries of her cub were like music to her ears. She laughed giddily as Tygra smiled down at her. "You did it, love," he said.
Ona handed the cub off to Talli, who began cleaning it off with the towels and warm water. "Congratulations, you two!" the healer declared with a grin. "You have a beautiful little girl!" She then set to work to finish caring for the mother.
Talli made the cub presentable, swaddling her before bringing her to her parents. Cheetara, all cleaned up, held her arms out as Talli approached. She could not take her eyes from the little bundle in her friend's arms.
Tygra stood back and watched Talli set the snuffling cub into her mother's arms. Cheetara stared, mesmerized by her beauty. She felt her heart swell. I'm a mother.
The little one quieted, comforted by her mother's purrs as she assessed her features, took in her scent, committing them all to memory.
The cub's short, fine hair was a deep, burnt orange color with the faintest traces of spots on them. Her little pointed ears framed a heart-shaped face that bore a stripe the same as Tygra's but for its bronze color, the thick brush of her lashes resting on her rounded cheeks.
Moving some of the swaddling aside to look at her, Cheetara noted that her body coloration was of a golden buff hue similar to her own, but there were the beginnings of tiger stripes on her arms and legs.
She was wondering if the striping extended to her back as her fathers did when she heard a little sound come from the cub, drawing her attention back to her face. The little one had opened her eyes, and was gazing at her mother intently.
Those eyes… They were so beautiful, a deep russet-pink color, like that of tourmalines. They were a deeper, richer shade than Cheetara's own, but with some of the rust of Tygra's. And they were electrifying.
Cheetara smiled down at her little one, the feeling of looking into her daughter's eyes for the first time filling her heart with warmth.
Tygra was staring as well, standing next to his mate, seeing her hold their cub so tenderly. It was like the whole world had stopped, like nothing else mattered at all. His mate, his baby…both were so beautiful…and healthy. And that was the biggest blessing.
The nightmares he had had about losing Cheetara in childbirth, about possibly losing them both, all the things he imagined could go wrong, all those fears were put to rest. His heart was whole and at ease again.
Then when the cub's eyes drifted up to his, he felt it. He felt himself falling thoroughly and irrevocably in love with those stunning eyes, the ones that looked at him so innocently. This was his cub; his daughter…whose visage resembled her mother's so much, but spoke of him as well.
She smiled at him, and the sensation all but doubled.
Ona and Jaga stood back and looked on, both proud and happy for the young couple. The cub was so cute! Ona's mind drifted back to the time she had first set eyes on Jorel, himself an adorable cub. She knew the feeling and that it was best to leave them to it.
The tender moment was short-lived though. Their daughter started to fuss, her little legs beginning to kick as her sounds began to formulate themselves into a cry. Cheetara was calm though, having learned everything from Ona beforehand.
She quietly parted the gown, unconcerned about the eyes in the room, and revealed a breast, bringing her baby to her. The little female immediately began to root, finding and latching onto a nipple without delay. As she began feeding, Cheetara marveled at how it felt. It was so different, but she would get used to it.
She finally looked up at Tygra.
His eyes were already on her face, his intense look full of emotions she could not name. When she smiled at him tentatively, he spoke.
"Thank you," he said, his voice husky with his feelings. "You have delivered me such a wonderful cub, one as beautiful and spirited as her mother. I can never thank you enough." He ran his hand over her forehead to her shoulder, squeezing gently.
"You speak as though I did this all on my own. You have every bit as much to do with her birth as I do. In fact, I should be thanking you. It was you who gave her to me." He leaned down, kissing her tenderly as their cub fed.
When they parted, Talli approached, waiting for Cheetara's nod to come closer. "So," she began. "What are you going to name her?" The parents looked at each other.
"Hmm…we hadn't been able to agree for the longest time," Tygra said. "We've gone through many names to find one that is appropriate. I think I have one that suits very well."
When Cheetara cast a cynical look at him, he smiled. "How about Astrid?"
Her expression brightened. Actually, that wasn't a bad choice. She was the culmination of their meeting one another after all, and the flower had been the catalyst to the start of her feelings for Tygra. Not bad at all…
Cheetara smiled as she switched breasts. "Astrid it is," she declared. "Well, mate, I think that is a perfect name. I'm proud of you, because I thought you'd choose something that would have had us debating for hours."
"Always happy to please," Tygra said with a smirk. He ran a large hand over Astrid's hair, marveling at how soft it was.
Jaga and Ona approached, and Jaga beamed down at them. "You have done well, my dear," he told Cheetara. "I knew any cub born of you would be beautiful, probably gifted too. Maybe she'll even be a Cleric someday."
He hugged Ona close against him in a rare display of affection. It would seem the environment was affecting everyone.
A knock on the door revealed King Claudus, Lion-O, Leia, and Jorel, all of them wearing happy faces. They had been waiting until the screams had subsided to come in and meet the newest family member.
The two couples kept a respectable distance. But Claudus, ever the king, approached and took a peek at the cub, who was done nursing by now and sleeping in her mother's arms.
"Well, well, look how pretty this one is!" Claudus declared, only lowering his volume when the others shushed him. "Sorry," he whispered.
He patted his son on the back, gently for a change. "You've done well, my son. And you too, my dear." He smiled down at Cheetara. Meanwhile, Tygra's chest seemed to swell all the more.
The others came to view Astrid, commenting on her unique coloring and features. Lion-O said he would have mistaken her for a lion were it not for her little markings.
Cheetara was so happy and thankful for all the friends and family around them, but soon she grew tired, having labored so long. Tygra picked up on it quickly, and made the friendly suggestion that they leave her to rest.
They would officially present baby Astrid to the people of Thundera when she was a couple months old and not as fragile. The citizens would no doubt be eager to see her.
Ona helped Cheetara to her feet so she could relieve and further clean herself. She made an offer to change out her sheets so she could lie back down, but Cheetara wanted to go back to her and Tygra's bedroom to rest. She would feel more comfortable there.
So Astrid was given to Tygra for the first time, who was much in awe of how tiny she was compared to the might of his arms. She hardly weighed anything!
Ona assured him he wouldn't break her, and the three of them headed into the other room, the healer making sure Cheetara was stable on her feet. Tygra took slow, careful steps, enthralled by the sleeping cub in his arms.
Back in their room, the cheetah lay back, relieved to be in her own bed again. Astrid had awoken again by that time, and was fussing for another feeding, so Tygra handed her to her mother gently. Cheetara lay on her side to suckle her, dozing lightly.
Ona excused herself, and it wasn't long before Tygra disrobed and slid into bed with his new family. He reached an arm around Cheetara, placing his hand over hers that was cradling their daughter to her breast.
Astrid fell asleep shortly after, having ate her fill. Tygra snuggled them both closer, his purring adding to the ambience of the room.
Everything felt so right, and as he and Cheetara followed their daughter into sleep, he knew he couldn't have asked whatever deity watched over them for more.
Thanks again! *^-^*