Leafpool was waiting for Crowfeather in a holly bush. It was early leaf-fall, two moons after the mysterious death of Hawkfrost on ThunderClan territory. Suddenly, she spotted Crowfeather. He was padding along the border stream on WindClan's side. Leafpool felt a thrill of excitement. She was quite plump now, and she couldn't wait to tell Crowfeather her great news. She popped out as he neared her.
"Crowfeather, wait!" she meowed. Crowfeather jumped, and turned around, startled.
"What? Leafpool, what are you doing here?" he asked.
"I . . . I wanted to see you," Leafpool mewed awkwardly. Crowfeather looked around warily, to make sure none of his Clanmates were watching. "Why?" he mewed.
Leafpool was surprised. He doesn't have to be so careful. It's not like we're doing anything wrong, she thought. "Because it's been moons since I spoke to you!" she meowed. ". . . And I think there's something you should know."
Crowfeather suddenly sounded bitter. "No there isn't, Leafpool. You don't have to tell me anything anymore. We belong to different Clans, remember?"
Leafpool was surprised, and she felt a bit hurt. "Why are you being like this?" she meowed. "It was hard for me too, you know." Her voice rose. "But ThunderClan needs me to be their medicine cat! I don't have any choice!"
Crowfeather's blue eyes blazed. "You did have a choice, and you chose to stay with them!" he yowled, then continued, "Look, I shouldn't even be talking to you. What if someone sees us? My Clanmates have only just begun to trust me again, and that's mostly thanks to Nightcloud."
"Nightcloud? Why?" Leafpool asked, bewildered.
Crowfeather looked uncomfortable. "She," he hesitated, then meowed, "she had my kit last moon. Onestar's going to announce it at the next Gathering."
Leafpool was stunned. How can I tell him my news now? She whispered, "Oh. I didn't know."
The gray-black warrior meowed, "Well, what did you think I'd do? Let my Clanmates go on thinking I was more loyal to ThunderClan? Nightcloud's a great cat, and a good mother." Leafpool cut him off by putting her tail-tip over his mouth. She then meowed, "You're right, Crowfeather. We don't have anything to say to each other anymore. Goodbye." Leafpool turned around, but before she could move, her Clanmates Cloudtail, Brambleclaw, and Berrypaw appeared. Brambleclaw saw the two cats and yowled, "Leafpool! Are you all right?"
"Yes, I'm fine," Leafpool meowed irritably. I'm not a kit, you know!
She groaned inwardly as Cloudtail looked at Crowfeather. The white warrior meowed, "What are you doing here? Doesn't WindClan have enough warriors to send out proper patrols?"
"Of course we do," Crowfeather snapped.
"Why are you out here on your own?" Berrypaw asked curiously.
"Onestar doesn't keep us prisoner in the camp!" Crowfeather exclaimed, his neck fur bristling.
"Just go, Crowfeather," Leafpool meowed wearily.
She winced as Cloudtail looked suspiciously at her, then at Crowfeather. "So you two just happened to meet here, did you?"
"That's right," Crowfeather replied.
Suddenly, Berrypaw exclaimed, "I remember you! You went away with Leafpool before the badger attack. But then you came back . . ." his voice trailed off.
Brambleclaw interrupted, "That was a long time ago, Berrypaw. We don't need to talk about it now."
Leafpool mewed quietly, "No, we don't need to talk about anything."
"Has Crowfeather been bothering you?" Cloudtail meowed protectively.
Leafpool was startled. "No, it's nothing like that," she meowed quickly, lashing her tail. She wished they would leave, so she could finish talking to Crowfeather.
"At least your Clanmates trust you," Crowfeather meowed.
Just then, Onestar, Tornear, and Harepaw appeared, sprinting up to stand beside their Clanmate.
Onestar meowed, "Greetings, Brambleclaw. Is there a problem?" His eyes were polite, but showed none of his old friendship with ThunderClan.
"One of your warriors has been trying to talk to Leafpool," Brambleclaw replied.
"Oh, for StarClan's sake!" Crowfeather hissed.
Tornear's eyes glittered with hostility, and the fur along his back and neck were fluffed up. "I see one of our warriors and two of yours, plus an apprentice. Do you call that a fair fight?"
Cloudtail meowed, "There was no talk of fighting until you turned up, Tornear, but if that's what you want . . ."
"Yeah! I may only be an apprentice, but I can fight as well as any ThunderClan warrior," Berrypaw mewed eagerly.
Harepaw meowed scornfully, "Well, if you can only fight as well as any ThunderClan cat, you're nothing to be afraid of."
"Come here and say that! I'll scratch your ears off, you piece of fox-dung!" Berrypaw yowled, unsheathing his claws.
Brambleclaw meowed sharply, "There's no need to fight, Berrypaw. Can't you see they're just mocking you?" Berrypaw pressed his ears back and scored a paw through the earth angrily.
Tornear mewed mockingly, "What's the matter, Brambleclaw? Scared my apprentice will shred the fur off yours? Or do you think that we won't really fight? WindClan aren't your cozy allies anymore, not now Tallstar is dead. We're as strong as any of the Clans now, and I think it's time you found that out for yourselves."
"Every cat knows the only reason WindClan cats are so fast is because they keep running away!" Cloudtail hissed.
Onestar broke in. "Brambleclaw, your Clanmates seem desperate for a fight. Aren't you going to control them?"
"I don't see why I should, seeing as you let your warriors insult them," Brambleclaw shot back.
Harepaw meowed loudly, "I'd easily beat that dumb apprentice over there. Every cat knows he's half-kittypet."
"My mother came from the horseplace. That doesn't make her a kittypet! We're loyal to ThunderClan now. I'm glad she didn't come to you for help first!" Berrypaw meowed hotly.
"ThunderClan has quite a history of taking in stray loners and kittypets. Not so welcoming to other Clan cats, though. Like Hawkfrost," Tornear sneered.
"He came onto our territory to kill Firestar! What did you think we'd do? Bring him into our camp and let him have the first pick of the fresh-kill pile?" Cloudtail growled.
"You didn't get a chance to do that did you? Seeing as he managed to stab himself with a stick and rolled into the lake to die," Tornear hissed.
Brambleclaw growled, "Hawkfrost was a traitor to the warrior code. RiverClan are well rid of him."
Crowfeather looked at Leafpool and sneered, "Oh, yes. ThunderClan cats always do what the warrior code tells them to do."
"That's not fair, Crowfeather," Leafpool mewed, her neck fur bristling.
"Come on," Onestar ordered. "ThunderClan cats might be able to waste time, but we have a patrol to finish. Brambleclaw, I suggest you tell your Clanmates to stay away from WindClan's territory – and its warriors. There is only peace at the full moon, remember, and my cats will fight to protect what's theirs."
"Your cats have nothing that ThunderClan wants!" Brambleclaw hissed. "Come on, Cloudtail, Berrypaw. And you, Leafpool."
Leafpool meowed icily, "I can find my own way back to camp, thanks, Brambleclaw."
"Bye, kittypet! I'll be ready for you next time," Harepaw taunted.
"Ready to be beaten, you mean? Because that's what'll happen," Berrypaw retorted. The ThunderClan patrol soon vanished among the ferns as they headed back to camp. The WindClan patrol left, but Crowfeather lagged behind a bit. Leafpool padded up to him. "Good-bye, Crowfeather," she whispered. "I hope we don't regret that we didn't speak today."
Crowfeather looked puzzled, but before he could reply Leafpool turned around and padded back to the ThunderClan camp.