Scarlet panted as she allowed Hawk to slump down in the shade of an acacia tree. His breaths were ragged, and his eyes were closed. Scarlet bent down to rub her cheek against his head, he didn’t acknowledge her touch. His skin was hot and clammy beneath his fur as the fever raged through him. The cut on his paw had never healed, instead it had become infected. Scarlet and her mother had brought Hawk here to get him help. Scarlet could only hope that it wasn’t too late…
“Stay here with him.” Queen told her but her anxious gaze lingered on Hawk. “I’ll go fetch my… friend.”
“What friend are you fetching again?” Scarlet stared at her mother.
“A meer who knows how to heal.” Queen said bluntly.
“A healer with no name? How do you even know a healer?”
Queen shook her head. “It doesn’t matter, and you don’t need to know. I’ll be back soon. Keep watch while I’m gone.” Then she turned and padded into the sunlight. Scarlet laid down with her flank pressed to Hawk’s and watched until her mother was just a speck in the distance.
They remained silent for some moments, Scarlet watchful and Hawk only half conscious. Then Hawk coughed. “Scarlet…” His voice was weak.
“I’m here, Hawk.” She nosed his shoulder. “Rest, litterbrother. Mother is finding a healer.”
“Scarlet.” He tried to raise his head. “Something is wrong. I think I’m dying.”
Scarlet’s heart halted in her chest. “No, you’re not. You’re just sick, you can be healed.”
“I don’t know.” Hawk gave up trying to move. “I’m seeing things. Other meer…”
“That doesn’t make any sense.” Scarlet’s fear was thick in her throat. “What do you mean?” Hawk didn’t answer. Panicked Scarlet butted his shoulder with her head. He didn’t move. She laid her head across his flank and paused. She could feel the slight rise and fall of his chest. He was alive. He must have fallen asleep. She sighed in relief and shut her eyes. When she opened them again, they were blazing with rage. Her voice trembled with the force of it as she spoke.
“I promise you, Hawk, I will never let you down. I will never let you go. I will never stop fighting for you litterbrother.” She growled into the silence.
“I won’t let anyone hurt you. I’ll keep you safe. I know you’d do the same for me.” She cuddled into him, but her tiger eyes were brimming with cunning as a plan started to shape in her head. A plan that would save her brother, but also the fate of the meer. She would end the violence between the families, no matter what it took, no matter the cost.