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A Season Remembered

By Ame

Timeline: 19850 - about 2-and-a-half moons before the slaughter.

Ame was out hunting as the season was lean on food. The rain had not fallen in over a hand and everything was starting to show the effects. It seemed that everyone was out gathering and hunting, stockpiling enough food for the next two seasons. Many of the kits were back at the holt with Shenleet and Hana, who were trying to teach them to sing a new song.

"Hana, stop!" Shenleet cried. "I know you are trying to imitate a Sand Tiger, but please, not one in it's mating throes." The other children laughed as Hana smiled. She liked to tease Shenleet.

"I'm only joking Shenleet," Hana answered. "I promise I'll sing properly from now on."

"Please do. I know you are having fun, but we are trying to teach the kits a new song for the ceremony." Shenleet replied. "I want it to be special."

"Your songs are always special Shenleet," Hana said sincerely.

Shenleet blushed and smiled. "Thank you Hana." and then looked around at the others who had started to get bored and were talking loudly. "May we please start again, from the beginning. We have less than half a moon to get this song perfect." Shenleet hummed a note to set them off, and they all started singing.

Suera was busy in her tent making another pot for the upcoming event, thinking that there was just enough time to get the remaining ones done. She had made 2 hands-worth of her special ceremony bowls already. They were small, thin-walled delicate pieces, designed to be used only once. Each of the oldest elves got one to drink out of for the final song. It was then broken at the end to signify the unfortunately finite span of an immortal life-time. She sent a thought out to Ame.

**How is your hunt coming dearest one?** Suera asked her soul-sister gently, in case she was in the middle of a shot.

**Fine, but I wish I did not have to do this. Game is very scarce. I'm afraid that we might be over-hunting.** Ame sent.

**Give credit to the hunters. You know that they will take no more game than is absolutely needed.** Suera returned. **You know it is true. Besides, we do have all the Winds coming here for the ceremony, and they have to be fed.**

**So, how is your kitling?** Ame asked, to break the mood. **Ready to be born yet? It seems like it should have happened a season ago.** The sending was tinted with laughter.

**Itaya and Birel asked that same question this morning, and I gave them the same answer I have given everyone this past moon. No, she will come out when ready.** Suera paused. **But I do hope it is soon.** The baby kicked as if in reply. **Then again, not too soon. I do want to get these cups done for the ceremony of remembrance.**

There was a brief pause from Ame.**I must go! I see ravvits!** Ame broke the link, and Suera smiled. Itaya and Birel sent greetings to her and she acknowledged them with love. She patted the baby then picked up a large handful of clay from the covered jar at her feet, noting that there was just enough to finish the pieces for today. Suera then slapped the handful on the foot-spun wheel, and started working.

Suera was just finishing the last of the bowls when she received a sending from Birel.

**Hello beloved, Itaya and I have been very successful in hunting. We should have enough to last for a moon.**

She laughed. **Now I hope the desert is not barren my love. Ame would not like that. Nor would I.** She had just finished sending when the first contraction hit. Suera gasped and as she stiffened, the wheel went flying.

**Beloved?** Itaya sent with concern, not knowing what was happening.

Suera paused. **My love, I think there will be a birth tonight. I must get Shenleet. Hurry home, both of you. And let Ame know, please.** Suera broke the link and sent one to the midwife resting in her tent. **Shenleet, can you come now? I think my kit is ready to be born.**

**Suera?** Shenleet enquired. **How long ago did the pain start?**

**Just now. And I think. . . ** Suera gasped as another contraction hit.

**Hold on Suera!** Shenleet answered as she was gathering her supplies. **Is anyone with you?**

**No. But I think they won't be long. They are on their way.** She was walking to the bedroom when her waters broke. **Is this normal?** Suera enquired as Shenleet entered the tent.

"No, but you are more than ready, and you are very healthy. I see no reason to worry. All will be well." Shenleet helped her undress, and as the last of the clothes came off, Birel and Itaya came running into the bedroom, Ame hot on their heels. There was a flurry of words from all three and Shenleet motioned for silence. "So who is going to hold her hands?" They all looked at each other before Suera made the decision.

**Ame!** Suera reached out for her soul sister's hands. **You stand behind me, and you two,** Pointing to her Lifemates, **I want one on each side.**

A hand of time later, while the 6 grandparents and various extended family were waiting in the main room of the tent, Shenleet was cutting through the cord of a blond, green-eyed baby girl. Itaya was being picked up from the ground by Ame and Birel was bathing Suera's forehead with a damp cloth and laughing.

**It's not funny my love.** Suera reprimanded him. **It could have been you, and we all know there is no way that Itaya would have laughed. Now go help him.**

"All right. But. . ." Birel stopped before he started laughing again.

"Suera?" Shenleet asked as she finished singing, placing the baby into her mother's arms to feed. "What is the kitling's name?"

There was a pause while Suera looked at Ame. **Well, I was wondering if you would mind if I called her Keame.**

Ame gasped and then smiled before carefully hugging them both. "Oh, I would be very proud. But when will we have the naming ceremony?"

**I know it is unusual,** Suera looked around at everyone before her gaze settled on Shenleet. **But would anyone mind if we did it at the remembrance ceremony? It would mean so much to me. Plus, I think that we need a little joy amidst all the sorrow.**

Shenleet nodded. "I think you are right. Joy is a part of life, as is sorrow. I think it would be wonderful." Birel and everyone nodded in agreement.

**Good.** Keame finished feeding with a gurgle of joy and was burped. **Now I think my darling, that you need to go see your loving audience.** Keame was passed around all the people in the tent before finally falling asleep in Ame's arms.

Ame sighed. "I think this is the best season of my life. I will never forget this day." She kissed Keame on the forehead before passing her back to Suera.

". . . She is precious. I will be there for her, with love, the rest of my life, as Suera has promised for my children." Ame passed Keame to Tomar for the final part of the naming ceremony.

"And so all those closest to this child have pledged their love and guidance to her, I now give the gift of her name to the tribe." He paused and lifted Keame into the air. "It is Keame. May she have a long and healthy life." Tomar handed her to Itaya before speaking again. "The naming ceremony and the ceremony of remembrance is now ended, the celebrating shall now begin." The rest of the tribe cheered and milled around Tomar, Keame and the rest of her family sending blessings out to them.

Little did they all know of the horror to come from the humans less than 2 moons later . . .