The Miracle of Childbirth.

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         All around the two cats cries of battle ricocheted off of stone, wood and earth. Distant though they were, every caterwaul sounded as though it were coming from their comrades, RiverClan cats. It was impossible to block it out, yet Rainysky did his best as he and Wisteriastar forged a path through the undergrowth, treading closely enough that her muzzle brushed his flank. His Leader’s breaths were labored, and punctuated by the occasional grunt of pain that sounded as if it might have originally been an outright cry, but was swiftly extinguished by the tough she-cat. She knew as well as he did they needed to be quiet lest they be detected by the many enemy Warriors present on their land at that time.


    The sun was turning the skies scarlet as they finally reached a safe place. A dead willow tree avoided by most as tales that it was haunted were popular. Eerie though it was, the space offered seclusion that would serve them well. Rainysky ushered the calico mother inside, with a nervous glance around. His pale eyes cast their sight as far out as they could searching the shadows for foes. Thankfully he saw no unfriendly faces, and ducked inside himself the skeletal tendrils of the tree brushing his sides as he went.

    He laid down the supplies he’d managed to grab. No poppy seeds as they were harmful to the kits, though he wished more than anything that he could ease her pain. He’d instead brought raspberry leaves (which while less effective were nonetheless safer in this situation), chamomile to calm her, cobwebs for any bleeding, and a mossball soaked in water. There hadn’t been much time, he reflected bitterly. But he hoped it was enough.

    After he got her safely settled into a makeshift nest, the silver tom straightened up. The dome of his head just brushed the low ceiling of the den.


    “I-I must find Saplingskies, I–I’ve never d-delivered kits before.” He was working hard to control his stammer, in a time when they had so little room for eschewing words. With that announcement he vanished back into the outside world, long legs springing him forward in leaps and bounds. When he returned, it would be with the help they needed. 


    Everything was going to be okay.

    It had to be.


    –  W I S T E R I A S T A R –

    No, no, no, no. Not now. Not. Now. This was the worst possible time for her kits to tell her that they wanted to see the world. In the middle of an all-out battle between all five Clans, the earth was splattered with the blood of her comrades and enemies alike. This wasn’t the world that she wanted to show her kits. Her legs trembled immensely, unable to fully support her own weight as the pain from her contractions wracked her body. Thankfully, Rainysky was there to support her. He had noticed almost immediately upon her collapse that something was terribly wrong, and given her current expectancy, his quick action was greatly appreciated. 

    Wisteriastar knew that they had to be careful and as quiet as possible to escape the battle grounds unnoticed, so she clenched her jaw shut tight to try and stifle the groans of misery that escaped her throat as the labor intensified. The calico warrior was in so much of a daze that she hadn’t even managed to register that her medicine cat had guided her to a secure and safe hide-away from the battle grounds. She didn’t know where she was and she couldn’t fully grasp her surroundings, as her eyesight was blurred from a mixture of exhaustion and agony. It felt as though she had been experiencing labor for many sunrises; that just couldn’t be right, or not only her life would be in danger, but her kits as well. 

    The RiverClan leader was in such a state of torment, physically and mentally, that Rainysky’s words seemed to go in one ear and right out of the other. She had barely managed to register that he was going for help, but the one thing that did stick to her was the mention of the ShadowClan medicine cat, Saplingskies. If Rainysky was going to seek out ShadowClan help, there was someone else she needed to be here. “H-Hornetstar,” the calico queen croaked, “I need to s-see him.” Her words were faint and felt as though they were stuck in her throat, but her desire to see her mate as she gave birth to their kits was above all else right now.


    Saplingskies didn’t understand how StarClan had allowed things to come to this, all over some stupid fish bones no less! Sure, there were other factors, but if it weren’t for the bones this wouldn’t have happened. He tried his damnedest to ignore the wails and caterwauls of warriors as he zipped between fighting cats, looking for any clanmates or allies with serious injuries.  He hadn’t spotted Wisteriastar in a while, but there were so many cats that he could hardly tell who was who anymore. When his eyes landed on a battered clanmate losing a fight against a larger ThunderClan warrior, he charged forward, ramming hard into the enemy’s side, stunning them long enough for him to get the injured warrior to safety. 

    He had just managed to get the warrior to Hareflight when Rainysky appeared, obviously panicked. ShadowClan’s medicine cat immediately knew what was wrong. “Shit,” he swore out loud, practically feeling his blood pressure shoot up. ‘Why now?!’ He thought bitterly, quickly informing Hareflight that Rainysky needed help with an injured RiverClan warrior, and that he would return shortly. He hated having to lie to her, but he knew that he didn’t have a choice. He took off with the RiverClan medicine cat to find Hornetstar, hoping to find the brute quickly. They needed to get there, deliver the kits, and get back as soon as possible, lest someone get suspicious.

    It didn’t take long for him to spot the golden tom, viciously clawing at Wolfstar. Just great, wonderful. Maybe if the WindClan leader had just kept his mouth shut and not tried to order Wisteriastar around, they wouldn’t be in this mess. Cold, bitter hate flared up in his chest as he watched the two toms fight, and for a moment he wanted to jump into the fray and tear at the brute himself, but he remained where he was. “Hornetstar, Scarletflood needs to speak with you, it’s urgent!” He called, hoping that bringing up the leader’s sister would be enough of a distraction “We need to go now!” If he didn’t visit them every half moon and give leaders the ability to die nine times, this whole situation would have made the tom believe that there was no StarClan. He stood there, staring at the fighting toms, waiting for it to be over…


    After what felt like forever, Hornetstar and Saplingskies could leave. Unfortunately, it ended with a lost life, but there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it. Wolfstar wouldn’t let Hornetstar go. As Rainysky led the two ShadowClan cats to the makeshift den, many thoughts began swirling around in his head. As they neared the dead willow tree, Saplingskies stopped for just a moment, obvious hesitation clear on his face as an odd feeling began to churn in his chest. Something was… wrong. Very wrong. Would the kits all be stillborn? Would Wisteriastar lose all her lives bringing them into the world? Whatever was going to happen, it wasn’t good. The little tom shook his head and followed Hornetstar and Rainysky inside, stopping just long enough to pick up a stick to muffle the queen’s cries. No matter how far from the fighting they were, he wanted to keep her as quiet as possible. 



    As expected, a five way battle between all the Clans was pure chaos. Everywhere he turned it seemed he bumped into someone else, and not all of them allies either. Though RiverClan, ShadowClan, and SkyClan were allied, that still left all of ThunderClan’s and WindClan’s warriors to be enemies. Currently he was engaged with the unlucky leader of WindClan – unlucky because it was obvious Hornetstar meant to draw blood and make fur fly. Unadulterated hatred aimed at Wolfstar was flowing through his veins at the moment, and he wasn’t even ashamed at how far he had fallen into his anger. He wasn’t going to leave the grey tom any less than unable to pick himself up off the ground and continue fighting, though preferably this fight would end when Hornetstar finally took a precious life from Wolfstar.

    Both toms looked almost torn to shreds by this point, a particularly nasty gash on Hornetstar’s shoulder sluggishly trailing blood down his golden pelt. It was obvious something was going to have to give, and soon, or they would tear each other apart to death. Luckily, at least for the ShadowClan leader, Saplingskies came rushing over, snatching his attention by speaking of his sister. For a moment he was confused, before he realized what exactly the medicine cat probably meant. Disbelief shot through him, cursing the terrible timing of everything as he tried to break away from the WindClan leader. However, it seemed Wolfstar would be having none of that, constantly trying to pressure Hornetstar into staying and focusing on their fight. Already angry, all this did was serve to push the ShadowClan leader over the edge.

    With a mighty roar he lashed out, claws catching Wolfstar across his exposed neck. Surprise shined in Hornetstar’s eyes as blood arced across the clearing, spattering his pelt, though it quickly disappeared as he remembered he had much more pressing matters to attend to than worrying about if he had really killed Wolfstar or not. The grey leader now busy bleeding everywhere, the ShadowClan tom finally broke away and raced after Saplingskies. His mate needed him, and he had already wasted enough time. If he had known where they had her stashed away to give birth, he surely would have left the ShadowClan medicine cat in the dust.

    As it was, he hadn’t known where she was though, so when they reached the willow tree and he smelled her inside, he didn’t hesitate to barge right in. Still having enough common sense to stay out of the way, he settled himself behind her and near her head at the back of the fallen tree. She looked terrible, even if that was extremely rude of him to think, especially as her mate, and his heart was throbbing in fear now. Surely nothing would go wrong, yes? This was already terrible timing, and even StarClan couldn’t be so cruel as to curse birthing complications on her now.

    I’m here, my love,” he whispered into her ear and her ear alone, eyes fluttering shut as he pressed his face against her before quickly pulling back. He had never witnessed a birth himself, but from the stories he heard told, the queens could get particularly nasty as they became overwhelmed by the painful process. He’d offer whatever comfort he safely could, that much was obvious. Glancing up, sitting his tail beside the RiverClan leader’s back so she could feel his presence, he watched the healers work with a vague air of anxiety about him.


    Rainysky jerked his head up involuntarily as the Leader of ShadowClan suddenly came thundering into the gradually growing too-small space. 

    Maybe it was just the aura of one endowed with the power from StarClan of nine lives but something about the tom seemed to positively fill the den. Though it didn’t hurt that he was genuinely well-built and regal as well. Wisteriastar had good taste.


    “S-so,” The thin silver tomcat turned his attention towards Saplingskies, his pale seafoam eyes enormous and rounded with anxiety. “D-do we have everything we need? She’s in pain…is-is this normal?”


    – W I S T E R I A S T A R –

    A haze settled over her, compromising her comprehension of what was around her and inebriating her ability to fully utilize all of her six senses. Her vision blurred with pain and her mouth felt dry with each inhale of air, gasp after gasp. Her head swam as deliriousness overwhelmed her body with the cruel grasp it had on her. The contractions of her labor seemed to seize her every few heartbeats and her whole body ached, her muscles protesting in agony and exhaustion with every convulsion. Wisteriastar had been an expectant mother twice before and yet none of her previous kittings had been this painful. Panic began to surface from deep within her and her heart slammed rapidly against her chest. Rainysky had returned and with him Saplingskies and Hornetstar raced into the shelter of their temporary den. As the ShadowClan leader glued himself to her side, the calico RiverClanner felt soothed by his presence, her trembling body able to relax ever-so-slightly before another contraction mercilessly possessed her. Once more, her consciousness slipped from her, the torment of this childbirth afflicting her with misery and pain so much so that her ability to remain mentally present lapsed completely.

    The first kit, a lively young tom with a darkened amber pelt, joined his mother’s nest with ease. The second, a rich brown she-cat, was not far behind. The third, a calico tom, gave her some trouble as her body was beginning to become unable to tolerate the pain, but he successfully joined his littermates before him. However, she wasn’t done yet, there was still one kit remaining that was waiting to be born. But before she knew what was happening to her, her body seized, a spasm gripping her unrelentlessly as her body reached its limits as to what it could handle. Wisteriastar’s labor was long and exhausting, her body had been in a constant state of hypertension and shock eventually overcame her as she lost an unruly amount of blood in the kitting process. Her breath shuddered and her eyes rolled to the back of her head. The RiverClan leader’s body lurched as if she were going to vomit, and then she collapsed and her vision went completely black.

    When she opened her eyes, bright sunshine blinded her and she had to blink rapidly to adjust her sight to the gleam before her. The tree cave she had taken shelter in was so dimly lit in comparison to the bright, open space of where she was now. When her eyes had finally adjusted, she recognized where she was almost immediately. The soothing breeze that lulled the tall grass and the bubbling brook of a nearby river, with the accompanied sound of birdsong in the air. StarClan’s hunting grounds– an area of such pristine peace and serenity that the outside world could never fully compare. But the RiverClan leader was not at peace, she couldn’t be here right now, not when she was supposed to be bringing new life into their world. The breeze momentarily intensified as a figure materialized before her, one whose frame was as slim and slender as her own, but his dark brown pelt with a flash of warmth on his chest made him immediately recognizable to her. 

    Fear and anger overcame her as she approached the StarClan warrior, her voice but a sharp sting as she demanded, “Mallowleaf! Why am I here? This can’t have happened! Not now!” Her orange eyes flashed as she met his calm amber gaze.

    “This was meant to happen, Wisteriastar,” He replied evenly, his deep voice seeming sympathetic to her blight but otherwise unnerved by what the repercussions of her death meant in this moment, “you had to have known that mating with the ShadowClan leader would have consequences, not only to your life but to that of your Clans and those involved as well.” Though his words were harsh, his tone was not accusing. He was just stating the facts to her. “StarClan is not all powerful and we cannot prevent the course of your choices, but we also cannot prevent the results of what the punishments are for breaking the warrior code.” 

    As he spoke, his golden eyes dropped, looking somewhere behind her. Wisteriastar whipped her head, following his gaze. A small body materialized, one so tiny and pure that her heart ached in utter loss and tragedy at the sight. A small white she-cat looked up at her and offered her one cheery chirp before she left her side and walked over to join Mallowleaf. The calico leader wanted to let out a cry of anguish as realization loomed over her. 

    “You have nine lives, Wisteriastar,” Mallowleaf’s compassionate voice broke into her sorrow, “you can come back from the dead, but that does not apply to all lives. Sometimes, one life has to be exchanged for another.” She didn’t want to hear anymore of this. The calico warrior choked back her sadness and she pressed forward to touch her nose to that of her dead kit’s head. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered, unable to voice more of what she wanted to say to her daughter, who would never know the joy of life. 

    But it would seem that her time was up, as the lively hunting grounds of StarClan began to fade away from her. And with them, the spirit of her daughter. 

    Wisteriastar returned to wakefulness with a jolt, her body suddenly rejuvenated with life with a sharp intake of air. Her orange eyes darted around the tree cave, falling upon the stricken expressions of Rainysky, Saplingskies, and Hornetstar in turn before they fell onto the litter of kits she had just brought into the world. Or rather, three out of four. With the exception of a lifeless white she-kit whose heart never beat even once. The calico warrior curled herself protectively around them, pulling them close to her belly despite their mewls of protest. Their lives were so vulnerable and precious, she wanted to make sure that the remaining three never suffered like their sister had. 

    “I’m so sorry, Hornetstar,” She murmured, turning to meet her mate’s vibrant green eyes, “I couldn’t save her.”


    Saplingskies took a moment to observe to observe Wisteriastar, twitching an ear to acknowledge Rainysky’s question. He quickly gave Wisteriastar the stick he had picked up and settled himself near her back end, ready for the kits come. “Pain is normal, but I’ll be honest-” His gaze flickered between Hornetstar and Rainysky “-I am very concerned. A queen should not be on the verge of blacking out due to the pain. I need you to try your best to keep her alert, Hornetstar. For the good of your kits.”

    Things seemed to be going relatively smoothly. Each kit was coming along just as expected. As one came into the world, he would quickly pass it off to Rainysky or Hornetstar with a firm order to clean it and get it crying. Everything seemed like it was going to be okay…. But then it all went wrong. Panic rose in the ShadowClan medicine cat as a sudden feeling of death began to loom over him. The feeling was tense, cruel, and frightening, and he wondered if Hornetstar or Rainysky could feel it too. “Not now, StarClan ple-“ his plea was cut off as Wisteriastar suddenly shuddered, reacting violently to a life being torn from her. And then, she was still. Saplingskies paws had been stained red with her blood, which was also soaking deep into the den floor beneath them. The rain wouldn’t be able to wash this away easily. Perhaps StarClan wished this place to become a monument of sorts, a reminder of what consequences could come of certain decisions. How cruel.

    “There’s nothing I can do for her now, she will be rejoining us shortly,” He commented flatly, turning his attention to the kit that remained inside. With a bit of work, he was able to coax the final one out into the world, a little she-kit, her pelt as white as leaf-bare’s first snow. He took her between his paws and quickly got to work cleaning her… but soon noticed that something was wrong “No…” he murmured, his cleaning becoming more forceful “No! This kit did nothing wrong!” He hissed, laying her down and pumping her little chest with his paw, attempting to stimulate her breathing. Nothing worked. This kit would never breathe. Her heart would never beat. She would never see the world. No matter how many times he saw it, a lost kit would always tear his heart in two. He looked away, bitter tears threatening to pour from his eyes. “Damn it! I… I’m sorry, Hornetstar. There’s nothing I can do for her.” He lifted his paw and rubbed at his eyes. There would be time to cry later, he needed to be calm for now.

    “The other three need to be kept warm until Wisteriastar awakens, then they need to nurse. Once their bellies are full, we’ll need parsley for Wisteriastar to dry her milk supply. Then I suppose we need to get them to ShadowClan and get back to the battle. Surely someone has noticed that we’re gone by now.” The little tom sighed and stepped towards Hornetstar. The two toms never got along, and possibly never would, but for now, Saplingskies was willing to put that aside. He briefly touched his muzzle to the leader’s shoulder before standing back to meet his gaze. “I’m sorry for your loss, I wish there was more I could have done to help the kit. May she rest peacefully among the stars.” 

    About that time, Wisteriastar came back to the world of the living, so Saplingskies stepped away. He didn’t need to worry about checking her over, as StarClan had already done the healing work for him. He watched on sympatheticly as Wisteriastar brought her surviving kits closer to her belly. He may not agree with their relationship, but all parents had a right to mourn lost kits together. “Perhaps we should give them some time alone, Rainysky.” He suggested, waiting to see if Hornetstar and Wisteriastar wanted them to step out for a bit.



    Instantly he could tell something was wrong, even if she had to be in pain… Too much pain, it seemed like. Which Saplingskies mentioned right after he had the thought. Was this a sign, a bad omen? He usually wasn’t the superstitious type, but this was too well timed – in the middle of a battle, she was in so much pain, the medicine cats even looked concern. Dread, thick and hot, curled in his belly so mercilessly for a moment that he thought he might throw up. Or maybe that was the fact that the first kitten had now been born. If he wasn’t so busy trying to keep the contents of his stomach down, he might have noted how handsome the little tom was, but all he could manage to do was focus on his own breathing, staying pressed close to his mate, and cleaning and warming one of the kits after it was handed to him. Even that last piece of business was almost too much. A mighty warrior, used to bloodshed and violence, almost knocked flat from a queen giving birth. He might find it funny if the situation didn’t seem so dire.

    Everything was going fine, and then suddenly it wasn’t. His attention snapped back into clarity as Wisteriastar’s body gave a violent shutter, his own heart stuttering as he recognized the sign for what it was. She was losing a life, and in the middle of giving birth. “Wisteria!” He pressed closer, his nose burying into her shoulder before he jerked back to search her gaze. All he met was glazed over, wide open eyes, unseeing, unblinking… Just dead. White hot, irrational fear shot through him, mind completely glossing over the fact she was a leader with nine lives. “Wisteriastar, damn it,” he pleaded, reaching out with a paw but hesitating. What was he supposed to do? And then, after a furious blink, reality slammed back into him. Shakily reaching out the rest of the way, he gently closed her eyelids before simply staring.

    He had completely forgot about the kits, until Saplingskies’ yelling caught his attention. Glancing over, he felt his heart hit the floor at the pitiful sight that met his gaze. A cold, dead she-kit, white as freshly fallen snow. He felt like laughing in the face of all this cruelty, and might have, if he didn’t feel so hopeless. His mate dead, granted she would come back, and a kit taken from them before she could even breathe her first breath. “You tried,” he managed to mumble, voice far away and raspy. Somehow, he forced himself to meet the ShadowClan medicine cat’s gaze. Part of him was angry, wanted to do nothing more than throw the other tom’s hollow, meaningless words back in his face, but mostly he was just done with today. Done with the battle raging outside, done with this conversation, done with this whole birthing thing. “You tried.” And really, that’s all a mere medicine cat could do. Herbs could only work so many miracles.

    Done with the medicine cats, he had turned his attention back on his mate just in time to see her finally take her breath of life. Instantly she was all he had care for, idly noting she curled even more tightly around their remaining kits, glancing at the dead one from the corner of his eye. Would they even bother naming her? No, no, they should. If Wisteriastar didn’t want to, he would. He couldn’t bring himself to be even more heartless. They had thought their mateship would work out, after all. They were responsible for that kit… Their poor kit’s death. Apparently only able to say two words at that moment, he found himself repeating them again. “You tried,” he whispered, pressing close to bury his face in her thick fur. Then, certain they wouldn’t be seen, he allowed himself to cry. Nothing extravagant or loud, but silent and still, his excitement at being a father from before long gone. If this was how his fatherhood was starting out, what did that mean for the rest of these kits’ moons?


    It was unbelievable how quickly it all went to hell. At first the other two toms were calm, and so Rainysky’s anxiety remained at a manageable level. The situation was not ideal, but it appeared to be proceeding without issue.

    And suddenly, it was not.


    Everything past the point where her bleeding spiked was somewhat a blur until he found himself staring at a corpse surrounded by mewling kits. Three living, one not. His eyes lingered on the still form of the dead kitten. She’d been born without breath. Had it been painful? He wondered. Could one even be born if they weren’t alive? Birth was a beginning, but for this kit no path had ever existed, so there’d been naught to begin. Would she be among the stars now, or was this husk of a body all that would ever exist of her? If no soul had ever taken up residence there, surely there was nothing to ‘pass on’.

    As sad a revelation as it was, he took comfort that it meant she hadn’t felt anything.


    All they could do now was wait. The agonizing silence, punctuated only by their own heavy breathing and the distant sounds of claws clashing on bodies. Until finally Wisteriastar rejoined them.

    It was at this point that Rainysky looked away, with a feeling as if he were intruding on a very private moment between the two mourning parents. His gut twisted with grief. This birth never had a chance to be normal and happy like those done in honesty, but it had gone more awry than it seemed those involved deserved.


    Had StarClan made it so to convey their disapproval at the illicit love that had led them to this moment?


    He held his tongue, knowing to speak these thoughts would be heartless, even if it were true. He couldn’t control what they did.


    Distantly he nodded to Saplingskies and led the way out of the den and into the woods.


    – W I S T E R I A S T A R –

    In all honesty, Wisteriastar was drowning so heavily in the loss of her kit and the weight of what it really meant that she hardly even heard the voices of Saplingskies and Rainysky as they quietly offered their condolences and left the makeshift den. Her breath left her chest in a heaving sigh of emotion, grief blanketing her like snow on bare branches. Then, the presence of another heightened her awareness– it was her mate, Hornetstar, and his comforting touch as he joined her and curled up with her. The two of them grieved, taking in the heavy loss of life from one so innocent. She felt his face bury into her fur and the wet tears drip onto her. The sensation made her sadness all the more deep, she hated that he had to feel loss like this and she hated even more that it couldn’t be undone. Left alone in their privacy, she swept her feathery tail gently over his back, giving him as much comfort as she could in their moment together.

    “Let’s give her a name,” She whispered gently, mustering the courage she needed to continue on forward. After all, they couldn’t stay here forever and wallow in misery, even if they may have wanted to. “She deserves to live on in our memories, and perhaps, in StarClan’s hunting grounds.” Her orange eyes glanced down onto the still white body before the two grief-stricken parents. “What do you think about Marble… Marblekit? It’s one of a kind. Just like her.”

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