Author's Notes: The fanfic that comes before this is at Rio's site, under "The Last Sunset". It's recommended you read that first.
"I'm sorry... I can't... I.. lov..." the words died in his throat and he slumped, his body still warm while gripped in the cold paws of death.
For the tenth time that night.
Demeter blinked back hot tears, huddled in the dusky corner, running through the same scene again and again. He'd tried to save her... and died in the process. The one Cat who understood her pain, who she had dared to tell what was really happening behind the scenes, as it were, would never be with her again. Not in her lifetime.
Some good had come out of their violent confrontation at least; Munkustrap had lost. They had both lost, technically, both died of deep wounds on the same night under the half-moon's light, but Demeter knew that he had been the winner in all ways but life. He had her love, harsh though it may be, it had lasted through a year of painful memories and experiences.
The golden-furred Queen let out a cry of anguish, staring blankly at the dried blood on her paws. His blood. It was smeared across her chest as well, a constant reminder of how badly he had been hurt trying to rescue her from her imprisonment. Demeter closed her eyes momentarily.
**Munkustrap drew in a painful breath, hampered by the deep red scratches across his chest. He was sure at least two had pierced through to his lungs, but his eyes still burned with an almost insane hatred and he lunged forward once more.
Only to be deflected by a heavy blow to his cheek, despite the other Tom's condition, almost as bad as his own. If his opponent walked away from this, he would have a permanent limp in one leg and scars spread across his body for the rest of his life.**
The image of her fatally wounded love remained burned into Demeter's eyes, and a full-throated sob racked her body. He had been so determined, still standing there on trembling paws, so foolish, so utterly reckless to try to save her when she was already lost forever. No amount of love could help her recover from the terror she had felt whenever Munkustrap was around, smiling kindly at the other Cats with ice-cold eyes.
Yes, some good came out of it... she tried to reassure herself. The tribe knew what had happened now, or at least most had guessed from the self-condemning words spoken...
**He knew he was going to die. Cats are mortal, after all, and fatal wounds like the ones he had just taken were certain to bring out that quality sooner or later. Munku snarled haughtily in the other's direction, voice rasping, "You know you're going to die as well..."
No reaction but a cold stare and heavy breathing.
"Demeter's mine... she'll never be anything but... we both know that..." the battered tabby growled. "She's been mine since I found out -" coughing up blood now, his voice growing weaker, it was near impossible to watch anymore, "- that you loved her. That night... I made her mine..."**
And she was still his, she was certain of that fact. Even in death he held a harsh grip of fear on her mind.
The rest of the Jellicles had been shocked, to say the least. Hard though it was to do to one of their own, they had slowly backed away from Munkustrap's side, leaving him to die alone like no Cat should. But then, no Cat should have done what he did.
Despite their best efforts to save Demeter's one love, he died in her arms... in pain but contented to feel her paws almost frantically try to wipe away the pooling blood that blended and dried onto his fur.
Letting tears flow freely down her face, the grieving Queen looked off into the distance and whispered, so softly she could hardly hear herself, "Macavity... I love you... but I can't live, not now... not ever... forgive me..."
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