(This story is related to "Suddendusk & Quick Fang's Recognition" - see listing for more related stories.)
The dream was a good dream. True Edge was riding at the head of the pack, his spear in hand, in hard pursuit of a thunderhoof bull. It was that which gave it away as a dream, since a thunderhoof never left the rolling grasslands for the forest, and even if it had, it would surely break its legs or neck trying to run in the thick woods. But True Edge wasn't one to reject a good dream like this one, not on the basis of a minor technicality such as reality. Instead, he savored the chase, the spear strong in his hand and the wind whipping through his curling mane of hair. Beneath him, Charm was not so much running as she was soaring as she surged ahead of her packmates, closing fast and sure on the great bull. The thunderhoof tossed its shaggy head, throwing streamers of green slobber -- and as this was a good dream, none of it splattered on him or Charm, even though the she-wolf was coursing alongside the beast now, so very close that True Edge could see the bloodshot veins in the bull's fear-rolling eye.
Triumphant, True Edge jabbed with his spear, piercing the thunderhoof's thick dark hide as easily as though it were water. The kill was clean. Perfect. Flawless. The bull collpased to its knees, its drop impossibly gentle, almost graceful. Charm pranced to a stop, and True Edge turned exultantly to face his fellow hunters...
... weeping ... the sound of weeping ...
True Edge recognized the muffled sound of his lifemate's tears, and the invasive noise threw his dream off balance. True Edge struggled to regain his moment of triumph, but he could not, not when Yuki was making such a wretched sound. His celebration soured. His magnificent kill vanished. His tribemates abandoned him (no doubt to enjoy some heroics of Blacksnake's -- Blacksnake was just like True Edge's own brother Lynx in that way; Blacksnake or Lynx could always be counted on to pop up and steal the heroics in True Edge's dreams, leaving him shuffling and impotent like the boy he had once been around the soul-brothers...). Even loyal Charm melted away, vanishing like mist and leaving True Edge alone with his lifemate somewhere out of sight and out of reach and mysteriously in tears--
True Edge reluctantly opened his eyes, mourning the soured dream up until the moment he heard the hitch of Snowfall's breath, followed by a silent stillness too sudden to be honest.
He rolled over in their bed. Weak sunlight leaked around the edges of the hide window-curtain. His lifemate lay curled on the edge of their bed, her back to him, a fur clutched tight around herself. True Edge shook off the remaining fragments from the dream, and reached out to his Recognized instead.
**Yuki?** he sent, stroking her back. A stripe of sunlight was spilling across them in the bed, and in that weak light, Snowfall's pale skin and hair shone like ice. **You woke me. What is wrong? Why do you cry?**
Snowfall lay silent for so long that True Edge wondered if maybe she would not answer. His lifemate was accustomed to being the rock against which others could find anchor. Even with him, she could be reluctant to expose cracks in that calm, strong exterior.
**Yuki,** he sent, putting both arms around her and pulling her against him. He nuzzled the nape of her neck. **It was a very good dream you woke me from with your weeping. The night was a good night. Our daughter is with child. We will have a grandcub. So why are you crying?**
Snowfall's mind opened to his like a clam exposing a pearl. **I had a good dream as well. It was a beautiful dream,** she sent, and then her words dissolved into imagery as she shared the memory of it with him. The lifemates were at the river beneath a ripe spring moon, and all of the world around them was lush and green. They stood at the edge of the Holt River where it swelled behind the weir. The water lay still before them as it never was in real life; both moons and a spill of stars reflected from the water's surface, and flameflies winked and danced in the air between the sky and its mirror.
Someone joined them on that shore; it was Quick Fang, improbably swollen with child, and in her arms was a sleeping, swaddled babe. True Edge smiled ruefully in his bed at the peaceful glow about his dream-daughter. This was their Dehn as her mother hoped her to be, not as she was. In the dream, Snowfall and True Edge both beamed down at their daughter and at her infant, and Snowfall's rich sense of fulfillment was like an intoxicating nectar. Their child. Their grandchild. Their hope for the future yet unborn...
And then there was someone else in the dream. From the other side of the river, Whitestag came striding across the top of the stone weir to join them, as if that narrow stone walkway was a bridge across something more than just the old river. True Edge drank in the sight of his son, his own mirror's image, with hair and eyes so very much alike his own. Whitestag was dressed in the same leathers his parents had last seen him ride away in, on that dusk before his last hunt. A painted eagle feather fluttered from one of his braids -- Flash's love-gift, something that had been lost to time a century before Whitestag's death.
Whitestag joined his living family as though he had never left them, and reached out to Quick Fang in silent request. She handed him the infant without word, but her pale eyes were shining in pride to see her brother holding the babe.
"What a beautiful cub!" Whitestag said, cradling the infant close. "You did good, sister. You did good."
At that moment, the pain and the joy in Snowfall's heart was so mixed and so strong that it woke her. Back again in their shared bed, Snowfall drew in a deep breath and shivered, the grief at their son's loss still as keen and fresh as it had been when they'd recovered his body from the mountain that had broken him.
True Edge held his lifemate close, his own heart seized with a mix of joy and grief. **That was a beautiful dream,** he agreed.
"Paun would be so happy for her, if he were still with us in the body," Snowfall whispered, her voice raw. "But his spirit is so very happy for her. I know that is so."
There was more than that in her mind. True Edge knew that truth, and was certain he knew what else lay behind his lifemate's tears. Snowfall loved both of her children dearly, but where Whitestag had always been a gift, her bond with Quick Fang was rockier and troubled. Whitestag had been their golden boy, a gifted child who had brimmed with intelligence, charm, and ability. Whitestag had been the child who had combined the best traits of both of his parents into something new and perfect. Quick Fang... well, there was no question that her parents both loved her fiercely, but sometimes Dehn could make that love a challenge, as their wolf-favored daughter challenged everything. Snowfall would never admit it, not even to herself, but True Edge knew that in some dark kernel in his lifemate's heart, Snowfall would always ask why, if they had had to have lost one of their children, why had to have had been their son? True Edge knew that his lifemate had been waiting for the day when their treasured son would Recognize and father cubs of his own. Letting go of that dream had proven as difficult for her as accepting the finality of Whitestag's death.
**It's not lost. Not anymore.** True Edge nuzzled his lifemate's neck again, and sent back to her the shivery image from her own dream of their pregnant daughter with a child in her arms. **We'll never hold Whitestag's cublings, but we'll see him again in the eyes of his sister's cubs.**
Snowfall let go of a shuddering breath, and he felt the grief slow drain away from her body. **Zeik,** she sent, when he knew she had found her composure again. **Thank you.**
**Your dream was a better one than mine,** he sent, holding her close and letting his eyes slide shut again. **But mine was good enough that I want to get back to it... let me share where I was in it, just in case you want to join me there...**