(This story is part of the Three-Mating of Kestrel, Snowfall and True Edge storyline – see list for links to all stories.)
The news of Chicory and Rainpace’s Recognition brought much excitement to the tribe, as the announcement of another upcoming addition always did. Kestrel, the eldest of all, remembered the chaos of the last time there had been so many cubs in the tribe at the same time, but she was glad for the constant celebration that came with it. She had wasted no time in congratulating her cousin, catching her up in a joyous hug and offering advice if she were ever to need it. By her outward appearance, the eldest elf seemed to be one of the happiest to hear the news.
Yes, she was glad…and also slightly annoyed to find that a feeling she had thought long gone was beginning to dredge itself up again from the back of her mind. Now, as Kestrel sat alone by the river in a shaded spot that she often came to when she needed to think, she tried to set her thoughts straight. Memories of a time when she herself had been the one to announce such news to the tribe, and had finally known the feeling of a new life growing inside of her, came unbidden to the forefront. There was a time long, long ago, when Bowflight could no longer be considered a child, that these very same memories had plagued her mind, and with them came a longing to experience motherhood again. But, as the turns of the seasons went by and eventually Bowflight had his own children, this longing faded away and instead, Kestrel took pleasure in welcoming her grandchildren.
“Why should these feelings come back now, after being buried for so long?” the glider wondered to herself, her brow furrowing. She placed her hands lightly over her stomach, willing the ache to disappear. The river rushed by in front of her, as if mimicking her turbulent thoughts. She shut her eyes and began to breathe deeply, lying flat on her back.
'You’re certainly not being very practical, elder!' she scolded herself in a stern mental voice. Not practical, certainly, and also very, very illogical. At this stage in her life, her main focus was her multitude of duties to the tribe; having a cub of her own would certainly keep her from those duties and take up most of her time.
“Why should you need to give birth to your own child again?" she thought to herself. “Why, you’re practically a second mother to all the cubs in the tribe, and especially so to your own little sister!” Pretending she had convinced herself, Kestrel pushed herself off the ground defiantly and rose to her feet. Brushing some clinging grass off her clothes, she decided that it was silly to brood over these matters any longer. The elder knew from experience that all longings and unpleasant memories would eventually fade. Kicking off from the ground, she rose into the air and started back to the den she shared with Snowfall, True Edge, and Fadestar. She was determined to keep these feelings to herself. Although she usually had no qualms with speaking her mind to the ones who knew her best, she certainly didn’t need to be burdening her lovemates or her little sister, who had plenty of her own worries, with such impractical thoughts. But, as she neared the den, she was chagrined to note that the ache in her belly had not subsided.
For a moment she hovered in place, composing her thoughts. She could do this, she thought, putting everything from her mind and presenting a calm, normal face. After all, she was the oldest of the old in the Holt. If anyone should be able to control themselves, she reasoned, it should be her. After a brief time she felt slightly more composed and so entered the den.
From across the room, True Edge looked up at her from where he sat trying to mend a well-worn tunic. Beside him sat Snowfall, patiently trying to point out that the old garment was better replaced than repaired, though it was generally a losing battle to do so with her hard-headed lifemate. Fadestar, for the moment anyway, was nowhere in sight. That meant that perhaps she was off with the other children.
"I can still mend this," True Edge said crossly as he nodded a greeting towards Kestrel. "We don’t need to bother with a new one yet.”
Kestrel suppressed a smile at their exchange while Snowfall gave up on offering help and instead came to meet her lovemate.
"Very well, then," Snowfall said, "Just let me know when you finally decide that it‘s too far gone to repair."
Kestrel and Snowflake shared a private, knowing smile. Their mate could be incredibly stubborn so nothing would suit him but to try and mend the tunic, no matter how much wear it had borne. When his efforts proved to be in vain, they would find a way to soothe his bruised ego and make sure he went to get a new one.
"Well, he will be busy with that for awhile," Snowfall said. "What have you been up to? We haven't seen you all night!"
"Oh, nothing much," Kestrel replied, trying to keep her voice neutral and not betray the disquiet she had felt earlier. "Just trying to get some rest between chores." Something in Snowfall's expression told her, though, that she hadn't bought the story in the least.
"Nothing much? But something’s got under your skin I'd wager. You look troubled."
"If she says nothing much, then it's nothing much. Why do you have to see things that aren’t there?" True Edge grumbled from across the room. Snowfall sighed to herself, looking from one to the other in exasperation.
"True Edge, as smart as you are, you seldom notice another’s emotional distress unless it jumps out and bites you." She neglected to say "which it has before," though they all knew it was implied.
"And as for you, my dear Kestrel, don’t you think I've known you long enough to see when something bothers you? How many times did I make peace between you and Boar when he did or said something insensitive? I've seen that look before. Something’s bothering you and you don’t want to burden us."
Kestrel looked guilty and True Edge looked irritated but intrigued. Snowfall, meanwhile, was confident in her assessment and waited for her lovemate to share what was on her mind. The glider brought her palm up to her forehead.
“I didn’t want to bring this up to you two… I was just going to wait for the feeling to pass,” she began, stealing a glance at Snowfall to see if she would drop the matter. She was chagrined to note that the snowy-haired elf was still staring at her intently, waiting for an answer. Realizing that there was no way out of this predicament except to unburden herself, Kestrel haltingly began to speak her mind, trying to bring to words the exact feelings she had, even though she herself was not entirely clear on why they were there. When at last she had finished speaking, there was a long silence, and Snowfall’s expression grew thoughtful.
“You know, I should have known that with all the Recognitions and births happening recently that these feelings would come to you; you and I are so alike in that way. As for True Edge and I, we’ve been hoping for another Recognition for some time now,” she finally said, receiving a confirmatory nod from the aforementioned. Kestrel raised her eyebrows; although she had been living with the two for some time now, they hadn’t yet mentioned these desires to her. Perhaps they had thought the same way about it that she had. The thought was comforting, in a way. She moved further into the den and took a seat on the furs.
“Even if we all feel the same way, there’s really nothing we can do about it,” she stated in a matter-of-fact manner. “Either Recognition comes to us, or it doesn’t.”
Picking this moment to lay aside his fruitless sewing project, True Edge looked from one of them to the other. The expression on his face was resigned, perhaps even sad.
“If the High Ones really decide who Recognizes or when, they certainly don’t heed our wishes on the matter. The last one I’ve heard of who could change that was Owl, back in the nights after madness took him. That was long ago though…” His voice trailed off and he shrugged, considering the matter pretty well closed and hopeless. He didn’t notice as Snowfall and Kestrel exchanged glances. While he returned to his tunic for another try they had arrived at the same notion simultaneously.
**Willow?** Snowfall locksent to her elder lovemate. The name was tinged with so much hope that Kestrel‘s heart beat a bit faster to think of it. She cast a wary glance towards True Edge as he settled in to work across the room. Her granddaughter and how she had opened Brightwood’s cocoon were still a sore spot with him.
**She isn’t the healer old Owl was,** she replied. Kestrel knew full well that even if she was, though, it would take some doing to convince True Edge to go along with it.
**We won’t know until we ask,** Snowfall countered. **Maybe we should talk to her?** she then offered to Kestrel. The elder pondered a moment. She was surprised that she had not thought of Owl, and the seemingly impossible thing he had done with his healing magic. However, it was rather useless to compare him and her granddaughter, who was still relatively new to the art of healing. Still, if there was one thing that Willow did have, it was the ability to persevere even when things got difficult.
**I am not sure whether or not Willow will agree to this, at least not right away,** Kestrel began. **Or how we can convince True Edge not to resist it. But I think if they both go along, then it might actually help her grow stronger in her abilities. At any rate, it can’t hurt to talk to her about it and give her some time to think on it.** Kestrel felt the familiar fluttering in her stomach again, this time due to excitement, but she set her mouth in a firm line. True, the desire to have a cub was illogically strong for all three elders, but Kestrel certainly realized that part of being an elder was knowing one’s priorities and putting them before one’s desires.
**We have to consider Fadestar as well. It would be as big a change for her as it would be for us.**
**Of course we must. Fadestar deserves all of our love and attention now,** Snowfall agreed. **That leaves more time for True Edge’s resentment of Willow to fade, and for your granddaughter to grow stronger in her talent.** Kestrel smiled warmly at her lovemate. There was the chance that the three of them might just get what they had been wishing for, and even though it couldn’t come to pass for some time it still felt better to have the possibility out there.
As if on cue, Fadestar returned to the den looking rather tired from playing with her agemates, whom she had only recently learned to feel comfortable with.
“Welcome home, cubling,” Snowfall said with a smile. True Edge echoed her greeting, still unaware of his two mates’ conversation. Kestrel came forward to gather her sister in her arms. Looking over her shoulder at her lovemates, she felt a sense of relief. One night, when the time was right, after True Edge was over his anger and Willow was more adept with her power, then they might have a chance. In the meantime they would save their attentions for the girl cub who still needed them so very much.