"Is she asleep?"
Raven looked up from the tiny bundle in his arms and gave Cloudfern a smile. "She and her mother both. Would you like to hold her?"
Cloudfern lifted an eyebrow. "You don't look ready to let her go yet."
"As I thought." Cloudfern took a seat next to Raven. "I do hope you don't coddle her as you did your first one." At Raven's look he hurried to add: "I just meant that she's far from as small as Littlesong was."
"It's all right," Raven said, tracing his daughter's forehead with a finger. "You don't have to apologize."
Cloudfern's smile held relief. "You and my aunt are quite the cub-makers! I'm sure there will be a third one on the way before your face-fur starts growing."
There was concern in Raven's eyes. Not much of it, but enough that Cloudfern had to roll his eyes. "None of that now," he said, ruffling Raven's hair as if he were the cub. "You are my elder, after all. It's not so strange that you have two cubs before I've had my first."
Raven seemed to fumble for words, staring down at his sleeping daughter. "It's just..."
Cloudfern continued to pet Raven's hair and leaned closer, eyes on the slumbering Whistle. "Recognition will find me in due time. I'm in no rush to have a little one of my own, though I wouldn't complain if I Recognized tomorrow."
"Oh love," Raven said, resting their foreheads together. "I'm sure you'll have a beautiful cub one day."
"Here, hold her."
Greenweave accepted the cooing bundle and began to make faces at it. The response from the bundle was laughter.
"She's beautiful," he said, smiling up at Cloudfern. "And such a fitting name."
"We have Starskimmer to thank for it," Cloudfern said. "I wasn't in the right mind to name a flower when I finally got to hold her, much less name a cub!"
"You were a little dazed," Greenweave said, giving Cloudfern a wink. "No one would hold it against you though. Bringing such a wonderful little cub into the world — even though it was Starskimmer who did most of the work — both drains you and spins your head, I should imagine."
With a playful wink in return and a shake of his head, Cloudfern sat down next to Greenweave. He cuddled close before saying, "You imagine right. It's all very overwhelming." He reached out with one hand; Laughter immediately grabbed ahold of one of his fingers.
"Wonderfully so?" Greenweave asked, echoing the hard-to-follow babbling that had left Cloudfern's mouth mere moments after Laughter's birth.
"Wonderfully so," Cloudfern said, stifling a chuckle. "You'll see for yourself one day, I'm sure of it."
"Father, are you crying?"
Cloudfern wiped at his eyes. The gesture did little more than leave his eyes less wet and more red. "You know us old people, getting more emotional for each new cub we see."
Beetle looked less than convinced. "The celebration has started." This only got a her a nod. "It's a girl-cub."
Cloudfern cleared his throat, his back turned to Beetle. "What is her name?"
Beetle thought she saw her father's shoulders slump, but the dim light of the den made it hard to tell if it had been real or a mere trick of the shadows. "That's a lovely name."
"She's a lovely cub." Beetle hesitated, one foot on the edge of the den. "Are you sure you don't want to come see her?"
Cloudfern shook his head. "In due time. Just... just let them have their moment and me have mine."
Beetle left without another word.