In the dark mirror au, have their been instances were kittypet queens kinda just expect their kits to be taken and make sure that they're ready? Like, Thunderclan breaks into a Twoleg nest and instead of fighting the queen, she's just like "I've got two mollies and a tom, one of the mollies is a little small, though I think she's big enough to still go with you. I gave them forest-y names; Pebble, Fern, and Sparrow, please let them keep their names as a final gift from their mother."
Has something like that ever happened?
Wow, that's depressing...
So, I must put it in:
Story below the cut:
Paprika was a fool.
She had known of the raids the forest cats sometimes launched on the neighborhood cats. She had known of the kits that had been stolen and of mothers and fathers who had been injured when they tried to protect them.
Yet, she had also known that the raids were rare, more often done on loners, rogues, and city cats. The forest cats didn't want to draw the ire of the humans by attacking their pets too often. Rather, their attacks on the neighborhood were more often made at those who had strayed too close to their beloved trees.
So, Paprika had dismissed the concerns of her friend Trixie when she'd told her of her plans to have kits. The last raid the forest cats had been just about a month ago. Often, they only happened two or three times a year. Paprika had seen a number of kittens born, grow, and be given their own housefolk.
Paprika had always wanted kits, little ones running around under her paws. She'd daydreamed of the things she would teach them. Like, the best places to sharpen your claws, the names of types of birds that came around the feeder, how to get your housefolk to scratch the itch you couldn't reach, and so much more. And, like the idiot she was, she'd decided that it was safe to finally have her own.
She'd been given birth to three precious kittens three months later. Two mollies and a tom. Two weeks went by without issue. Parenting was a little harder than she anticipated, but with the help of her housefolk, she took to it rather easily. The kittens had opened their eyes and ears and explored the world that was the basket in the kitchen.
A week later, a forest cat had been spotted four houses from her own. It had simply walked along the fence, looking into houses, and disappeared about an hour later. Paprika kept a closer eye on her kittens. They had begun to babble, weakly attempting to mimic her own words.
Two nights after that, the cat was seen again. Two houses from her own. It had done the same thing, watching the houses, before going off once again. Paprika decided to stay in the house instead of spending her mornings and evenings outside chatting with the neighborhood cats and dogs. Her kits had started mewing their first word. "Mama"
Two nights later, Paprika was awoken by nothing. Her kittens lay sound asleep next to her. She gave each of them a lick on the head, heart warming as they purred contently. Her housefolk had gone to bed a little earlier than usual. She could hear him snoring away. With a yawn, she turned her head towards the window. She froze.
Wide, orange eyes locked onto narrowed, green ones. Paprika had never seen a forest cat before. It was big, far bigger than her. She couldn't see much of its details as it had its back turned to the light of the moon. But she could see its eyes slide over to where her kittens were nestled against her, and the glint of fangs as its mouth parted into a wide, wicked grin.
Paprika bristled, alarm shooting through her body. She turned in the direction of her housefolk's room, wondering if she could wake him up before the forest cat could try anything. But when she turned back to the window, it was gone. Paprika didn't go back to sleep.
Rage hit first, then indignance, then helplessness. There was nothing she could do to protect her kittens. She'd personally seen the wounds on cat who had fought back. The forest cats never killed them, but they left some wishing they had. She plead for help, but no one would. Many cats turned their noses, sneering that she deserved it for making such a idiotic decision. Others simply gave her a pitying look, unwilling to risk their lives for a pawful of kits. They told her to accept her fate. Some of the dogs had wanted to help, but were unable to escape their backyards. Deep down she'd known better than to bother asking.
So, she did the one thing she could think of. She prepared her kittens for the inevitable. She made up stories of strong, noble cats who fought monsters in the woods. She taught them a hunting a crouch as best as she could. They began to speak in full sentences. They played games like "Hunter" where one of them was a mouse and the others had to catch them, or "Battle" where their made up groups fought off monsters.
It took longer than she thought, about a month later. But, she wasn't surprised when one night when her housefolk had gone out they appeared in the kitchen , eyes gleaming, claws flexing. No doubt prepared for a fight. They were big, and their pelts were unnaturally glossy and sleek. Paprika eyed each one, a spotted molly, a light gray tom, and the cat she'd seen in the window. His jaw was scarred and crooked.
She sighed quietly, numbness overtaking her body. She nudged her kittens to the strange cats, ignoring the confused squeaks of protest. The foresters blinked at her in surprise, expecting her to fight back or at least run.
"These are my kits," she began quietly, "there are two mollies and a tom."
She nudged the first kit, a dark tabby molly. "This one is Sparrow, she's the eldest." The bold kit swatted at the spotted she-cat when she bent to pick her up. The wild cat withdrew, hissing slightly, before snatching her up roughly.
"Ow!" Sparrow cried, "Mama! She's hurting me!"
Paprika flinched, but nosed her second kit, "He is Fern, the second oldest." Fern, took a slight step back, glancing back warily.
He didn't fight when the gray tom picked him up, gentler than the spotted one had been with Sparrow.
A lump had begun to form in her throat by the time she turned to her youngest, the runt. "This is Pebble, she's the youngest. She's a little small but-" she paused to choke back sob, "but, I think she's strong enough to make the journey."
None of the cats moved. The crooked jawed tom stared at the kitten for a long moment. Finally, he sneered, speaking for the first time, "Scrap couldn't even survive a stiff wind." He flicked his tail, and the other two cats moved towards the door.
A strange mix of relief and guilt made Paprika's legs quiver. She quickly took her littlest one back to the basket, almost afraid he'd change his mind if she took too long. Her other kittens cried for her as they were taken away from the basket, away from their home, away from her. She curled her paws around her littlest one, not daring to face the foresters again, unable to face the looks of betrayal her kittens were surely throwing her.
She heard a scoff from behind her, the spotted molly, "I told you kittypets were cowardly, they won't even defend their own kits."
"She'll just have more later." The crooked jawed tom answered breezily, "Probably won't even remember these ones."
Another voice, the gray tom, "Next time she should mate with a stronger tom. These tiny things are hardly worth the effort."
Their voices grew muffled as they left through the cat flap.
She looked to the little kitten they had left her. Pebble. Paprika's lips curled back at the name. Never would this little one be taken from her. She would not touch the land beyond the fence or fight over a pile of bones. Paprika wanted her to never have any association with the wild cats. This little kit would never know hunger, or bloodshed, or anything outside of the housefolk's protection. And she certainly wouldn't bear the name of anything from that wretched forest.
She clutched her littlest one close, her rage giving way to grief. She finally allowed her tears to fall, for sobs to shake her shoulders. How could she have been so stupid?
"Mama?" her kitten mewed, pawing at her face in concern, "Are you okay? Mama?"
"Next time" the gray tom had said.
There wouldn't be a next time.
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