Redhawk Caldera Overture: JCS
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Conception 
Set January 20th, this thread is private.

In the days following the return of her perfect little son's body, Niamh had been a wreck. When his body was buried she wailed and refused to leave his grave for the rest of the day, and the night that followed. By the time the sun had risen the next morning, she had curled up on the loose mound of earth, and had been covered in several inches of snow that had fallen overnight. She was grateful for the thick winter coat that kept her heat from escaping as she slept out in the elements- but she was so numb to the sting of the cold, she wouldn't have noticed it anyway. Her heart had been broken when the stranger had brought her son's body to the borders, and she felt gagged and gutted by the grief. 

But eventually she would be pulled from the gravesite, and would shake free the snow that had fallen upon her, but she would go straight to the den she and Phox now inhabited, and would steal herself away into the darkness to grieve her deceased son. She would eat only what she could choke down between sobs, but made herself friendly with hunger and solitude. It felt as though the pain of malnutrition helped distract her from the gaping wound Primrose's death had left. In her grief, she had taken a few days to be solitary, leaving Towhee and Phox- perhaps unfairly- to tend to pack businesses. 

But when she heard @Phox return to their den, she spoke his name with a quiet puff of breath, and reached out to clutch and cling to his warmth, a strangled sob wriggling its way into her throat as she begged him to hold her and comfort her.
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Grief was not even the right word for what Phox had felt that day. It was beyond that. No parent should outlive their child, and yet here he was, and Primrose was no more. Niamh had taken it hard as well, of course, and Phox wondered if they would make it out on the other side of this. Was there another side? Nothing felt quite the same now, even if he and his youngest son had not been as close. Figment had not returned either, and Phox had a feeling he would remain with the Frosthawks. That left Phox with zero sons here. It was painful beyond words.

But he went on, throwing himself into hunting in the wintry mix that fell down on the earth. It felt oddly similar to the rains that had come just a few months ago. Had it been longer ago that that? Phox couldn’t say. Time felt different now. There was only before and after the loss of Primrose.

He returned to the den with a skinny rabbit hanging from his mouth. Niamh needed to eat, and it was his duty to feed her. He said nothing as he came in and nudged the food toward her, and he responded somewhat stiffly to her embrace. It didn’t feel fair that they were here and Prim was not.
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She collapsed against him, and in feeling the rigidity of his posture, she felt horribly soft and vulnerable, like a feather leaning, bending against a cold stone. Through her sobs she wished she could beg him to bend, to soften like a wax candle in warm hands and embrace her, but she couldn't manage the words. The closeness she craved was something driven by the grief which had settled in around her heart like water pooling around a stone, only to freeze at winter's touch. But when the sun had risen that morning, cruel instinct and nature had begun to creep in, and coerced her to cling to him now not only out of sorrow, but in need. 

But how she wished she could hold her little son again, to have him lay against her side and tell her stories. She had taken them for granted; she'd taken all of her children for granted. She couldn't do this again.

She paid no mind to the rabbit he had brought with him, for the hunger she felt came from somewhere much deeper inside of her, and its ravenous demands hurt more than the worst hunger pangs she had ever felt. While her heart was frozen, she burned nonetheless. She began to preen the fur of his shoulder, sinking her teeth through his fur to comb through the ash-flecked guard hairs, pulling again and again in an attempt to draw him nearer.
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It wasn't until she truly melted into him that he really noticed it. The telltale signs that pointed to the very thing that was causing them so much grief in this moment. Children. And yet, hadn't all of his children brought him happiness? Even Primrose, now gone, provoked more happy moments than sad ones, even if the final memory was hard to shake and sometimes seemed to push all the others out of the way. This time, when she pulled him in, Phox relented, allowing himself to push the grief to the back of his mind and let the sensation of Niamh numb him.

He returned the gesture, plucking at a loose tuft of hair on her neck and pulling it free from her blond scruff. He tossed it aside and went for another, and he continued detangling her fur as he went around her neck. It was soothing, and Phox said nothing as he worked.
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She became intoxicated the moment he began to groom her. Like a hopeless waif with stone-weighted skirts she was dragged below the surface of her grief and into a darkness that she couldn't escape from. A crescendo of emotions swept through her, growing to an overpowering buzz that made her head pound. If he'd said anything, she wouldn't likely have heard it. She reciprocated his grooming, but her motions lost their tenderness as her motions became more frenetic.

As soon as she'd teased her teeth through his fur one more time she jerked her muzzle toward him and sank her fangs into his flesh with a gesture deft and sudden. With the finesse of a steel trap she latched onto a roll of skin and fur, not to clench and break the skin or squeeze and cause pain, but simply to grab a hold him and  to warn him that he shouldn't dare disobey her. When she growled, it was not a quiet sound but a harsh snarl, though it tapered toward the end of her breath to a keening note of want.

Her heart ached; she wanted to beg him to run away, leave the den and abandon her for a week; but she her grief was buried, temporarily, far too far beneath the surface to stop her now.

Her patience sapped, she released her grip on his shoulder and stood up, shoving her shoulder against his with a growl so that she might force him into action. She didn't know what she wanted-

but she knew what she needed.
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We can probably slap that conception icon on here. <_<
Feel free to skip over to the aftermath in your next post, haha.

When she bit into him, Phox returned the gesture. His lip curled, and he felt the pent up emotions of the past weeks begin to boil beneath the surface. In so many instances, he had deferred to her, allowing himself to be a doormat (or something close to it) for much of their relationship. Something about today was different, though. Maybe, if he'd recalled last year, he would have remembered that it was the one time he had really stood up for himself around her.

When she shoved her shoulder into him, it was the only nudge he needed. She was his. And he would have her.
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Her impassioned demand was not ignored, and while she felt part of her conscience recoil at the thought of bringing more children into the world, she would not push Phox away or deny him what she had demanded that he take. Like a raucous crow offended by an intruder, her heart screamed out, begging her to make it stop but she didn't listen. In the wake of the act it fell silent, leaving her feeling numb and cold but with that emptiness came silence. She didn't realize how much she'd craved a moment of time that wasn't filled with the sound of her own sobs, or the painful memories of seeing her son, stiff and still. She felt nothing, and in contrast to everything else, it was bliss. 

She pulled away from Phox and looked for the rabbit he'd brought. Wordlessly, she grabbed it and pulled it toward her, staring out into space as she settled back down onto the ground to eat. And for once, she was quiet a she did so- lost in thought, and absent from conscious behavior.
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She grew quiet, and so did Phox. He kicked at his paws while she ate, thinking of children: past, present, and future. He stated ahead for some time, watching the outside world that was still covered in snow and would remain that way until the spring thaw. Like last year, the thought of children was both exhilarating and exhausting, but there was a new element of sorrow in the mix. Children leaving the roost was one thing (and something he’d come to expect), but he never could have predicted what it would be like to truly lose a child until it had happened.

He glanced at Niamh as she pulled apart the rabbit, and he considered saying some word of half-hearted empathy, but he couldn’t bring the words to the surface. Instead, he curled himself up against her, facing away, and began to let his breathing set the rhythm for a restless sleep.
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