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Squirrelflight awakes late in Bramblestar's den on the Highledge. With guilt flashing in her, she realizes that the patrols had already been organized and were long gone by the time she had awoken. Although she feels awful about it, she knows that it's because she's a queen and is expecting kits. She reflects on how the two medicine cats, Leafpool and Jayfeather, had been attempting to persuade her to move to the nursery, but to no avail as Squirrelflight had insisted that she had wanted to hang onto her duties as deputy as long as she possibly could. Due to the fact that she is in a lot of pain, she sits down and remembers her reaction when she had figured out she had been expecting kits. She remembers her overwhelming feelings of excitement and joy, and how they had completely overriden feelings of nervousness. But as days pass and the kits grow, her nervousness gets the better of her, weighing her down, making it almost impossible to do anything.
She leaves Bramblestar's den to check how the patrols are getting along. She goes over to the fresh-kill pile, seeing Cherryfall sharing a vole with Snowbush and Berrynose. Cherryfall offers her some of the mouse, and Berrynose tries to persuade her to eat it. Squirrelflight is hungry, but remembers that all of ThunderClan is hungry because it is leaf-bare. She feels guilty, as she thinks she is eating more than her fair share. As she thinks whether to eat or not, she reflects on how much pain she is. The thought of pain leads her to recalling about the kits she had fostered - Hollyleaf, Jayfeather, and Lionblaze. She ponders if she was a good mother to them, remembering how after the truth had been revealed, it had taken a long time for her to be forgiven. Snowbush gets in the way of her thoughts and convinces her to eat, and Berrynose adds that it's mouse-brained she won't eat. Squirrelflight snaps back at him, her short temper getting the best of her. Cherryfall tells her that it's good for her and the kits if she eats. The argument continues, with Cherryfall, Snowbush, and Berrynose trying to convince her to eat, with Squirrelflight refusing. Eventually, Squirrelflight gives in.
Jayfeather checks in on her, and Squirrelflight looks into the eyes of her foster son, thinking that maybe everything would be okay. As Jayfeather collects alder bark, Squirrelflight accidentally rams into him, thinking that ice above him would fall and hurt him. Jayfeather snaps at her, saying that he doesn't need her to protect him. Squirrelflight stares at him, offended, remembering that the tension of their past lives - the way she had raised Jayfeather and his siblings - was hanging between them. Jayfeather tells her he can take care of himself, and walks away. Squirrelflight feels guilty, not knowing if she can be a good mother if she can't even stop arguing with her Clanmates.
Bramblestar and Squirrelflight go on a hunting patrol together, and Bramblestar tells her that she hasn't been herself lately. Squirrelflight tells her that she's scared she wouldn't be a good mother, and she asks if she was a good mother to Hollyleaf, Lionblaze, and Jayfeather. Bramblestar is quiet, and Squirrelflight thinks back to how furious Bramblestar was when he first found out. Bramblestar calls her a stupid furball, and tells her that she loved the three kits she raised with her heart, and they turned into three amazing cats. He tells her that no other she-cat can be a better mother than she will, and he'll always be with her.
Squirrelflight chases a mouse, but accidentally runs into a fox. Bramblestar comes to her aid and battles the fox along with her. Bramblestar gets pinned down, but Squirrelflight ends up saving his life by defeating the fox, sending it retreating. Bramblestar thanks her for saving him, and Bramblestar confesses that he thought the fox would get her, and that he would lose her and her kits. Squirrelflight tells him that she couldn't let the fox hurt him, not when she could fight besides him. The two twine their tails, and Squirreflight thinks that they are so much stronger together, and that they will make sure their kits are loved and safe. Bramblestar and Squirrelflight travel back to camp, but Squirrelflight feels better. She thinks that being a mother isn't about saying the right thing or doing the right thing, but being a mother means protecting the cats you care about. And Squirrelflight knows she is capable of doing just this - for the rest of her life.
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