private wait for it (p. ember)

// @ember here you go!!

She still couldn't believe this was home now. She and her family spent the whole evening crafting makeshift nests (with extensive help from Berry, of course). They weren't perfect, but they would do just fine in a pinch. But now, as the night sky glittered with stars over their heads, Howling Wind couldn't even think of sleeping. She was buzzing with excitement, but there was still something bothering her.


They hadn't spoken since the Great Battle. They'd made eye contact here and there, but no real conversation had been exchanged, and the tabby wanted to change that. She wanted her new leader to know that she had her back, even if she had previously had her claws in hers. She padded towards the flame point, mouse in her jaws. A peace offering. Halting at the flame point's shoulder, she greeted her with a dip of her head and cleared her throat to get her attention before setting down the mouse. "Hungry?" She trilled, hesitating before she would settle. She wanted to be sure the other she-cat had time to talk with her before she got comfortable.

The camp was coming along better than she ever could have hoped. All day Ember had been running around lending a paw to whoever needed it; clearing out some space here, helping with makeshift nests there, and everything in between. It had been exhausting. But, more than that, it had been exciting. This felt like a new beginning. The memory of pulling herself back into the pine group's camp after the battle still hung heavy in her heart, how empty and hopeless it looked. There was none of that here, everywhere she looked was bustling with life and work. This felt like a place where she could actually begin to put that bloody day behind her.

Then a memory from that day stepped up to her, in the flesh.

She had seen Howling Wind around the camp already, of course. Their gazes had caught each other once or twice. Seeing her had surprised Ember. The thought that any of the marsh cats would follow her had, at least a little, but especially one that she had sunk her claws into. Still, she met the approach with a smile. That was the point of all this after all.

"Ya know I am!" she laughed, "Thanks! Haven't had time ta go hunting for myself with all this going on."
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She didn't know what she was expecting, but it wasn't a laugh. A small, breathy chuckle of her own flitted past her teeth in relief as she settled down into a crouch. She gently reached her head forward to nudge the mouse closer to her new leader before letting her gaze travel idly across the clearing. "I can't believe this is happening...." She murmured, giving her head a tiny shake in disbelief. A whole new life awaited them in this ravine. A new life for her children, for some of her friends who had joined them here.

Glancing a tad sheepishly towards Ember, she mewed, "Thank you. For letting me stay here, I mean. You know, after...." She trailed off, but her fern eyes remained fixed on the colorpoint, trying her best to maintain eye contact. "You didn't let me die that day. It's because of you I'm still here with my family. You didn't have to..." Clearing her throat, she didn't finished the sentence and finally let her gaze drop.

Ember's gaze followed the gaze of the molly next to her, tracing the beginnings of the camp around them both. It was all going so wonderfully. A second chance, with new faces to befriend. "I know, isn't it great?" she assented with a brilliant grin. Whatever doubts that had flared up since she had left the gathering behind, this sight had smothered. It felt like the first time she had walked into the pine group camp, before the battle turned it into a graveyard.

It was up to her to keep the same thing from happening here.

Feeling eyes upon her, her gaze flicked back to meet that of Howling Wind. For a couple moments, she listened in attentive silence. Gave the words their room to breathe. Her movement stilled. Only once those green eyes dropped away from her own did she speak. "I did have to though." She stated simply, her tone unusually somber. The memory of Flicker's raspy voice telling her that mercy was a mistake came back to her, unbidden. Her ear flicked at the thought. "I saw I could win without killing ya, so I had to. I'm not gonna kill a cat I don't have to. It's as simple as that. Nothing to thank me for."

It was idealistic, childish logic. Perhaps even foolish. Even if it was, she would uphold it. She didn't want to believe, as Flicker did, that she was wrong to spare anyone. So she wouldn't, even if it was wrong.

"As for letting you stay, well, that's just how this works, right? When he came down from the stars, Rain said we had to stop fighting. We can't do that if we keep acting like we're all enemies!" Ember reasoned with a nod. Then she turned back to the brown tabby beside her with a new smile, attempting to rekindle the warmth that she had started the conversation with. Her tail touched the other molly's side affectionately. "Besides, I want you as my friend! Being enemies with ya hurts too much, Howling!" The flame-point joked with a nod to her scarred shoulder. A sharp laugh left her, an invitation to laugh along.
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I did have to though.

Howling Wind's gaze flicked up in mild surprise, but she remained quiet to let the molly speak. Ember spoke of how unnecessary killing her would be, how she saw she didn't have to and the tabby immediately knew she'd made the right decision in following her here. The cat before her was so, so young - only a fraction of her own age - but she was already braver than most cats. She had the courage to show mercy, to be kind and compassionate even to her enemies. Then I'll vow never to be her enemy again.

She couldn't help but chuckle lightly as the flame point cracked a joke, gesturing towards her shoulder. She couldn't believe how quickly the she-cat had moved on from their bloody quarrel! Her own scars still stung slightly from the battle, but like their relationship, those would heal too. As her laughter still, she looked to her, green eyes meeting gray. "You're going to make a wonderful leader, Ember. I know now that I made no mistake in bringing my family here," She mewed truthfully, a gentle smile pulling at her lips. She had lived for many seasons under Briar and Hare Whiskers, but new times were ahead and she was so hopeful. A new life, a new future for herself and her loved ones.