This is a story of what happened to Dovewing and Bumblestripe's relationship after the Last Hope's events.
Chapter 1 - The burials
The white ancient dipped her head to Jayfeather before padding away. A small, scrawny ginger and white tom (was it Fallen Leaves, did she hear?) murmured into Hollyleaf's still ear, and then turned, tail down, out of camp behind a she-cat and the hairless tom with bulging eyes. Midnight bid farewell, before lumbering out of camp, her bulk filling the tunnel. Dovewing watched Purdy, Sandstorm, Graystripe, Dustpelt and Leafpool take the dead out of camp. As Firestar's long ginger tail disappeared, Bumblestripe padded over and sat close to her. Marigold and cobweb smeared a gash on his shoulder, and one of his ears was freshly torn.
"Hey." he mewed gently. "You haven't had that cheek looked at."
"Fine." Dovewing got up, feeling the wound of her cheek sting as a sharp wind blew onto her face. She limped over to the medicine den; Daisy was having a torn claw inspected and treated by Briarlight, her ice-blue eyes squinting in pain as dock was applied to a cut pad.
"Can I help you Dovewing - ah, your cheek - I'll see to that. Daisy,you can go now - be careful where you put your paw." Briarlight's head disppeared as she stuck her head into the hole where herbs were kept. Dovewing tried not to look at her dragging, thin back legs. She waited, feeling awkward in the quiet medicine den.
"Where's Jayfeather?" she asked, breaking the silence.
"Oh, I think he went to look at the herbs in the old twoleg's garden. He wants to check to see if the Dark Forest destroyed it."
At the word, Dovewing casted out her senses. She found Jayfeather snuffling amung the Catmint, which was fragrent, but some of the leaves were curled, brown and dying. She was snapped back to reality as Brairlight reached up and began to spread a marigold pulp on her wound.
Chapter 2 - A warm surprise for Dovewing and Bumblestripe
Nearly six moons had passed since the battle.
"Psst!" Cinderheart prodded her. "Are you going in the nursery soon, too?
"Am I?" Dovewing was genuinly surprised.
"Didn't you notice? I've noticed alright. The whole clan thinks so! Of course Bumblestripe doesn't know. I'm going there, too. Lionblaze is going to be so pleased!" ---
"Bumblestripe - can you come for a walk with me?"
"Sure, where to?"
"How about the Jasmine tree?"
"Ok, let's go!" Bumblestripe padded beside her, out of camp. They soon arrived at the pink flowered tree. the stars shone - she could have sworn that foru more had appeared.
Firestar, Mousefur, Ferncloud, Hollyleaf?
"I have something to tell you." Dovewing mewed as they sat in the gap where they had sat there, all those moons ago.
"Go ahead." Bumblestripe purred.
"I'm going to have your kits." Dovewing mewed. Bumblestripe's head shot up. His eyes widened with surprise.
"That's fantastic!" Bumblestripe said.
Chapter 3 - Into the Nursery
Dovewing lay in the warm sun next to Cinderheart. Ivypool and Foxleap sat close, pelts brushing and sharing a starling. Jayfeather's apprentice, Amberpaw, was trying to memorise herbs as Jayfeather told what her they did. Lilypaw and Seedpaw tussled in a play fight, and Snowpaw and Dewpaw were looking in the fresh kill pile. Briarlight had dozed off by the Elders' Den, where Purdy was still telling her a boring story without him noticing that she had gone to sleep. Bramblestar as discussing hunting with Squirrelflight. Bumblestripe and Lionblaze came over with a vole and finch.
"Here's your finch!" Lionblaze handed Cinderheart the bird and purred.
"And here's your vole!" Bumblestripe set the prey down in front of Dovewing.
Chapter 4 - the kits
"Mama, can i see the kits?" Cinderheart's she-kit, Hollykit, a white she-kit with green eyes, meeped. Her other kit, Fernkit, a gray tabby with gray eyes, bounced up and down in her nest, trying to see.
"Not yet, my sweet." Cinderheart mewed. "They haven't come yet. Alright Dovewing?"
"She's coming along fine. Can someone tell Bumblestripe to stop pacing? It's getting on my nerves."
If this is fine, I'm a mouse. Dovewing's jaws were clenched.
"One there! That's fine, Amberpaw - now put it there." Dovewing felt something warm at her belly. Before she could look, a contraction wracked her.
"Two down, two to go."
"You're joking, aren't you?" Dovewing growled.
"Three... four! You're done, Dovewing. Bumble-" before Jayfeather could finish, Bumblestripe shot inside like a shocked mouse. He mewed and licked Dovewing's ears frantically.
"They're lovely!" he crooned."What will we name them?"
"The lilac she-kit will be Lavenderkit, The white and black tom will be Barleykit.." Bumblestripe thought of the first two.
"How about the gray tom Flintkit and the blue-gray tabby she-kit Moonkit?" Bumblestripe suggested.
"That's just perfect." Dovewing sighed, gazing at her kits happily as they fed. Life couldn't be any better - Ivypool was soon to move in the nrusery with Foxleap's kits, she had a healthy family and a loving mate and loyal clanmates.
"I'll always be here for you and our kits." Bumblestripe vowed. "I love you, Dovewing. Whenever I see you, and as I see our kits, I feel like my paws can walk the whole world."
Dovewing cast out her senses when Bumblestripe left. Tigerheart was pacing outside the nursery. Inside, a queen was giving birth. A kit looking exactly like Tigerheart came out.
He has his life now, I have mine. I don't love him anymore. The way I used to feel for him is now for Bumblestripe. And that is how it will always be.