Rowanstripe paced outside of the nursery awaiting the birth of his kits. He was extremely worried and furious that he was not allowed within the bramble nursery. Suddenly he pricked his ears and heard the sound of wailing kits. Sagewing walked out of the nursery and Rowanstripe rushed over to greet him.
"Well?" he asked the medicine cat apprentice.
"Two, both toms," Sagewing told him.
Rowanstripe broke into a rough purr that sounded more like a growl and wanted to see his two sons. He wondered what they would look like and what color their eyes would be. He could just imagine them, nestled within the gentle curve of Greylily's belly.
"Can I go see them?" Rowanstripe wondered. When Sagewing shook his head Rowanstripe tipped his head to the side and frowned. "Why not?"
Sagewing looked up and Rowanstripe saw a sadness within those eyes he could not begin to even describe. At that moment Rowanstripe knew something bad had happened.
"Greylily didn't make it," the medicine cat croaked.
Rowanstripe felt his fur stand on end and everything went dark. He was aware of someone pressing up against him to support him and looked into his sister Rosewind's blue eyes, dark with sadness. On his other side he felt another pelt brush his and he looked at his other sister Moonshadow.
"Rowanstripe we're so sorry," Moonshadow murmured.
Rowanstripe quickly shook them both off and stumbled over to the nursery. He wanted to see Greylily.
"Rowanstripe you can't go in there," Sagewing said blocking the nursery entrance.
Rowanstripe looked at the medicine cat with dull eyes. "I want to see Greylily," he said sadly.
"You can't!" Sagewing objected.
Rowanstripe felt his anger fuel him. "I want to see Greylily!" he snarled, leaping on the medicine cat apprentice and clawing his gray fur.
"Rowanstripe stop!" Rosewind shrieked running forward and trying to pull him off of Sagewing.
Rowanstripe swung his heavy paw at his sister and knocked her to the ground and jumped off of Sagewing. He pushed his way into the bramble nursery and saw Foxsky barring his way.
"Rowanstripe you were told not to come in," the russet colored she-cat told him sternly.
"I must see Greylily," he told the medicine cat.
Foxsky looked into his eyes and for a moment a flicker of fear flashed before her own eyes. She dipped her head to Rowanstripe and quickly walked out of the nursery. Rowanstripe looked over at the nest where Greylily's body was curled up around their two kits. Their sons.
Rowanstripe padded over to her and looked down at her. She didn't look dead. She looked like she was just sleeping.
"Greylily?" he called her name hopefully.
When she didn't stir he gently nudged her and quickly flinched away. She was cold and smelled of death. She wasn't breathing or moving. Her eyes didn't flicker and her ears didn't twitch when he nosed her face. She really was dead.
He let out a low mournful moan and buried his nose in his mates fur. His body trembled and he let out low mournful whimpers. Suddenly one of the kits let out a yowl of protest when he accidentally brushed up against its tiny body and made Rowanstripe look at his sons for the first time. Both already looked big and strong and were trying to suckle from Greylily. One was a dark ginger like him with black patches over his eyes and one ear and his paws were black aside from one white forepaw. The other, to Rowanstripe's amazement, looked exactly like Greylily.
"Rowanstripe?" called Rosewind's voice.
Rowanstripe looked over his shoulder at his sister. She was crouching beside him looking down at the two kits with a soft sad look in her blue eyes.
"She's dead Rosewind," he rasped.
"I know," she murmured. "I'm so sorry Rowanstripe."
Moonshadow was there too. She was pressing her soft grey fur against his and buried her nose in his fur. She didn't need to say anything, the gesture said it all.
"They're beautiful kits," Rosewind commented.
"How will they survive without Greylily to feed them?" Rowanstripe asked softly.
"We'll feed them," Moonshadow murmured. "Rosewind and I."
"And the other nursing queens will help too," Rosewind added. "What will you name them?"
Rowanstripe looked down at his two sons, suckling whatever milk Greylily's body had. He and Greylily were both supposed to name them. He prayed StarClan would send him a sign on what their names should be. He nuzzled the dark ginger tom as he brewed on the thought and the tiny tom yowled in protest and swiped at him blindly with talon sharp claws. He knew this kits name already.
"This one is Talonkit," he told his sisters.
"What about that one?" Moonshadow asked resting her tail on the kit that looked like Greylily.
Rowanstripe had no idea what to name his other son. It began to wail pitifully and Rowanstripe lifted it up by the scruff and set him down on top of his paws. He gave his nameless son a few brisk licks and the tiny tom opened it eyes. They were a startling blue.
"Bluekit," he murmured, not even aware of what he said.
"Bluekit is an excellent name," Rosewind said.
"They'll both be great warriors," Moonshadow told Rowanstripe. "Strong and brave just like their father and mother."
Rowanstripe felt a flicker of happiness of her words and nuzzled both his sons before looking at his dead mate.
I promise to take good care of our sons Greylily, he told his beloved mate silently.
A sweet scent suddenly surrounded him and Rowanstripe recognized the scent of Greylily.
I know you will Rowanstripe, his mates words whispered into his ear. I will always watch over you all. I love you Rowanstripe. Make sure our kits know that too...