Jealousy is a Bitter Companion to Keep

Leth gave happy chirps, circling around the nest of glistening green eggs. Lymph smiled proudly at their work. In five days, the trio of gooey green eggs would hatch, spilling forth life into the world.

Before then, in three days, mom and dad’s third nest would hatch. Two darling babies would come forth, toddling into the world with unmatched innocence.

Five babies. That’s how many would be there in five days. Five innocent babies.

Betes looked at the empty nest nearby, the one Winse had put together for them. It didn’t look as neat and tidy as the nests that dad and Lymph had made. It would work, though. The green goo bubbled, waiting for eggs to warm up and hatch.

Three more days. That’s how long she still had to wait until she could have a nest to huddle over, eggs to coo at, hatchlings to bring into the world. How many, she had no clue ,but she was dreaming of at least five.

Five toddling, wide-eyed, open-hearted babies that would chirp and squeak and call her “mom”.

Watching her mother and Leth tend to their eggs made something bubble up in Betes’ gut. She didn’t want to say it was jealousy. That was ridiculous. Jealous of her mother? Impossible. Without her, Betes wouldn’t be alive right now. She wouldn’t exist.

Yet the bubbling, twisting, knotting feeling refused to subside. Even snuggling with Winse, her favorite pastime (especially when dad was watching, the look on his face was hilarious), couldn’t wipe out the feeling. It was dark and sour, churning in her belly. Betes hated it. Even looking at her mother or Leth made it froth violently inside of her.

It was disgusting. She hated it.

She left the lair, unable to watch the happiness that her mother and Leth had. Hers wouldn’t come for three more days. Three more days of feeling that awful bubbling in her gut.

Would it even leave once she had kids?

Betes hoped so. She hoped to Plaguebringer that it would. She didn’t want it to stay any longer.

She stopped by Cad’s grave and licked her paw, the one marked by her brother’s teeth when they were younger. They weren’t her only marks now. Webwing scratches and mouse bites marked her, barely visible against her dark scales, not on the same damage scale as the bite from Losis was.  Losis had similar marks, minus a permanent scar from his sibling.

Losis had no interest in love or nesting. His interest lay with the hatchlings. He didn’t want to be the youngest anymore, even if it was only by a few seconds. Any hatchlings would relieve him of that burden, of being youngest. That’s what he was looking forward to most.

Betes couldn’t help but smile down at the mound of dirt, the bone grave marker. If Cad were alive, he’d be the oldest of the three of them. Would Cad find her silly for worrying? For being jealous?

She wished he was here. Losis could be such an energetic bore at times.

“Hey, Cad…” she said softly. “In three days, I’m going to have kids. Maybe…could you put a word in for me…with the Plaguebringer? If you’re able to, I mean.”

The wind whistled. Betes decided to pretend it was Cad, circling her, watching, listening. She smiled softly, red eyes sliding closed.

“Winse told me about the plague. The deaths. Could you…maybe…ask it to skip me?” Betes asked bravely. “I don’t want any of my hatchlings to die.”

She frowned. Something dark clung to her thoughts.

“If you need to…could you send it to Leth?”

This is cruel.

“I never did anything wrong. I don’t deserve to lose anything.”

Don’t do this to her.

“So if you could ask the Plaguebringer, please…”

Why why why why why why–

“Let my hatchlings live, even if you have to send it to mom’s and Leth’s instead.”



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