always



a one-shot by sea

for dark's contest

Always

"Mother, Mother!" I wail, flattening my ears. The badger is relatively small – about the size of a large rock – but my mother can't hold it off. I'm all the way up in my tree – clinging to the branches, my claws sinking into the thick bark. I can only watch as things go out of hand.

"Cerulean!" She yells, looking at me. Something flickers in her gaze before she goes back to the badger she's fighting. A long cut flanks her side, and the blood rains, splattering onto the ground. The badger raises it's claws, but my mother rolls to the side as the badger ends up slashing the ground.

"Mother, let me help you!" I yell, starting down the tree. "You'll be killed!"

"Cerulean! Don't. You. Dare." She says viciously, and I freeze in my tracks, clinging to the side of the tall tree. There's fire in her ice-blue eyes, and her pale fur is matted. The blood follows her as she moves – dark, wet, making me more sure that she's going to die.

She won't let me help her. She won't let me fight for her. She's dying, right there in front of me – I can't stop it. I can only wait and watch, hoping that I'll still have a chance to at least say goodbye.

My mother slashes at the badger, leaving a long cut on it's nose. The badger's blood splatters on the floor too, staining the grass crimson. I know it'll stay there, for a long time. The rain will wash the blood away – eventually – but I'll always remember this day.

I start down the side of the tree again. She glances at me through the corner of her eye, and she screams. "Cerulean! No! Save yourself! Save yourself! Do it for me!" It kills me to see her like this – bruised, broken, and bloody.

I scramble back up the tree, stopping at a high branch. My mother sighs in relief, all while fighting the badger. My mother's a good fighter – but she was sick for a long time. I'm healthy, and not a little kit anymore. Why can't I fight? I shift slowly, inching my way to the edge of the branch. If the badger comes right underneath, I can jump and land on it – I can help her...

"Cerulean." My mother meets my eye sharply. The badger is right behind her.

"Look out!" I scream, and she whips around, but not in time. The badger whacks her into the air, high above the ground. And then she is falling, falling, falling, falling. She hits the ground with a vicious thud, closing her eyes.

There's more blood than there was before. I surrounds her, taking over the green grass, the white dandelions. Everything is red when the flashbacks take over.

*

"Cerulean! Cerulean, wake up." Mother is standing above me, her eyes kind. Her tail wraps around mine, and I snuggle into her warmth. Even though it's raining, I feel completely safe. Thunder fills the air, shaking the earth. But I'm still in Mother's embrace.

When Father and Chartreuse died, Mother was there. We buried them, and I left my father and my sister flowers. They walk in my dreams, still. When sad thoughts cloud the happy ones, Mother was there. When we have to fight off enemies, Mother was there.

When the whole world is against me, Mother is there. She's the one constant thing that kept me going. She's the one who keeps me alive and happy in a world full of nothing but sadness.

"Do you want to go?" We're in the hollow of a tree. "We can go outside for a little while, if you'd like. You shouldn't be stuck in here all day – it isn't good for you." With a nod, I climb out of the tree.

Rain soaks my fur, but I don't care. I'm free to go wherever I like, as long as Mother is there, by my side. I jump into the puddles, splashing water everywhere. Mother laughs as I hit her in the face.

"Be careful," she murmurs. "Don't hurt yourself."

"I won't." I promise. "I'll be careful."

*

"Mother? Mother!" I scream. The badger is long gone – it ran away. I scramble down the tree, running to her. My paws are wet with blood – I didn't bother going around the pools of it – and I run up to my mother.

Her cream fur is full of gashes. Her eyes are closed, and her breathing is ragged. Her tail twitches as if she's in a peaceful dream.

*

"The stars are beautiful, aren't they?" We're sitting in a small clearing, staring up at the sky. It's around midnight – even though the colors are dark, I can still see the dark blue fade to purple, which fades into black.

"They are." I whisper. "They're beautiful." The stars map the sky, twinkling silver dots – some small, some large. Mother then points somewhere to my right.

"You see there?" I nod. There are two large stars, shining brighter than the rest. "That's where Father and Chartreuse are."

"Really?" I ask, in awe. They're beautiful, more beautiful than the rest of the stars.

"Really," Mother confirms. "They're watching over us. Always."

*

"Mother? Mother!" I shake her softly, and blood splatters onto my fur. I'll wash it off later, when she awakens, when this nightmare is finally over.

"Cerulean?" She says softly. She opens her eyes, her gaze peaceful. "Is the badger gone?"

"Yes." I nod, trying to coax her to her paws. "Come on, Mother. Get up."

"No, Cerulean. I must go. I'll watch over you." I stare at her, my eyes wide.

"Mother, no! Mother, I need you. Please." The tears bite at my eyes, running down my cheeks.

"I'll look over you. I promise." Mother closes her eyes, and I stroke her fur with my tail.

"Always?" I say faintly.

"Always." And then she drifts off to sleep.

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