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Everybody Lies

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Two mollies laid side by side in the base of a tree, hollowed out by some animal long gone. One of the mollies was a brown and white tabby, and the other a fiery-red with a white paw. The tabby had three kits at her belly, drinking their fill of milk as their tiny paws kneaded her stomach. The red she-cat laid behind the tabby, her head resting on the molly’s stomach as they watched the kits. The tabby, though her eyes were filled with happiness, let out a sigh and looked away from her kits.

The red molly glanced over before leaning to nuzzle the tabby, her green eyes round with understanding. “Keep frowning like that and your face’ll freeze that way.” The tabby let out a weak laugh, but kept her golden eyes off the kits.

The red she-cat tipped her head slightly before licking the tabby’s cheek. “I know this is bad, Leafpool, but just enjoy it while it lasts.” She kept her voice soft in fear of disturbing the kits, but she failed to gain Leafpool’s attention.

“I know Squirrelflight, and I should be happy, they are three healthy kits.” Leafpool looked over, tears brimming her eyes. “What will we do? We can't take them back with us, two of them don't even look like you or Brambleclaw!”

Squirrelflight quickly sat up and deeply nuzzled the molly, not moving away as she began to lick the top of the tabby’s head. “We’ll figure something out, sometimes kits don't look like their parents at all.” Leafpool was shaking her head as she lowered it to her paws, snapping her eyes shut as if it was some bad dream.

The red molly was at a loss of how to comfort the tabby before the bushes began to rustle. Both she-cats instantly froze and Squirrelflight took a defensive stance over the Leafpool, silently vowing to protect her and her kits at all costs as her fur bristled.

She instantly relaxed as a round black molly pushed through the bushes, yellow eyes big and wide. “I know I'm not supposed to visit until tomorrow night, but I couldn't sleep!” She paused as Leafpool looked away and Squirrelflight sat down behind the tabby again. “Is something wrong?” The black molly's voice was quiet and nervous, no longer filled with excitement but with worry.

“Oh no, we’re fine, Leafpool is just worried about their future.” Squirrelflight hastily explained, the round molly sitting down close beside them.

She was quiet for a moment, as if lost in thought, before she quietly spoke up. “I'm due soon, I could take the black kit and the silver tabby kit back to WindClan with me. I'm sure Crowfeather will be fine with it, and I'll tell him myself. The other tabby can stay with you two, he looks like he’ll be big and strong like Brambleclaw.” Leafpool was staring at the molly with surprise in her eyes, her maw hanging slightly open.

“Nightcloud, I could never ask you to do that! They're my kits, my burden to carry alone.” The tabby looked away at the last comment, her ears flat to her head.

Squirrelflight perked up her head, about to argue when Nightcloud spoke up. “That's nonsense and you know it, your sister and I are trying to make the best of this situation, the black one looks like me and the silver tabby has the same dark grey as Crowfeather, they are easy enough to pass off as mine, and the golden tabby has a ThunderClan build and colour.” Her tone was strong and strict, Leafpool cowering from her, looking away from Nightcloud.

The black molly let out a sigh as she moved closer and curled up beside the tabby, gently nuzzling her. “In the end it is your choice, but you know I'll look after them, and Crowfeather will help me. I'm not saying this is the only way, but it might be one of the better ones.”

The three mollies fell into a long silence after that, Squirrelflight gently grooming her sister as Nightcloud laid close beside Leafpool to make a 'nest’ for the kits between them. Leafpool’s mind wandered, not knowing what was best for her kits at this point. She could trust Nightcloud, the black molly was her best friend and she confided in the molly when she found out she was pregnant. Nightcloud had never left her alone since then, offering to help out in any way she could.

Squirrelflight had know almost as soon as Leafpool knew, her sister’s loyalty never wavering as she rode out the long nights with Leafpool.

They stayed quiet until the pink hues of dawn crept up on them, Nightcloud the first to speak. “I’m heading back to camp, me and Crowfeather will return at sun-high so we can figure everything out.” Leafpool opened her mouth to object but Nightcloud leaned forward to nuzzle the tabby. “Everything will be fine, Leafpool, trust me.”

With a quick lick to Leafpool’s cheek, Nightcloud rose and lumbered out of the small den and through the bushes that concealed them.

Squirrelflight curled closer around Leafpool, nuzzling her. “Maybe… maybe Ferncloud could take the silver tabby… or-”

“No.” Leafpool’s voice was sharp as she looked to her sister. “I will not drag more cats into this mess than I have to.” Squirrelflight looked away but nodded, Leafpool’s eyes softening as she nuzzled her sister. “I know you mean well,” she paused, voice soft once again. “But I agree with Nightcloud, she’s right about them.”

Squirrelflight was in shocked silence, she knew Leafpool was friends with the WindClan cat, but she certainly wasn’t. “But They’re ThunderClan kits by right! You can’t let two warriors go to-”

“They are as much WindClan as they are ThunderClan, and in the end, do we really have a choice? Do I have a choice?” Squirrelflight was lost for words, she could feel the fear and sadness roll of her sister in waves, so the red molly decided to stay silent as she rested her head on Leafpool’s side, waiting for the two WindClan cats to return.

 

.:.

 

Crowfeather nervously followed Nightcloud out of the Clan territories, his tail twitching nervously. He hadn’t really spoken or seen Leafpool since they ran away together, even at Gathering’s he tried to avoid her, though that became harder with Nightcloud becoming friends with the tabby. He tried not to think about how it was the fault of her kits even existing, but Nightcloud’s positive attitude about Leafpool and her kits helped.

“Just this way, they’re just a little ways past the Moonpool.” Crowfeather nodded as he looked at his mate, he was worried about the black molly and her being far from camp when she was close to kitting. He didn’t dare argue with her, even Onestar let them leave without many problems.

He shook the thought away as they came to a thickly bushed area, Nightcloud not hesitating as she pushed through. Crowfeather hesitated, looking around before pushing through and finding a tall tree, the bottom hollowed to form a den. He saw Nightcloud brush cheeks with Leafpool before dipping her head to Squirrelflight, turning to look at Crowfeather. But he wasn’t paying attention as she came closer to Leafpool, blue eyes big and round as he looked at the three kits at her stomach.
“Those… those are our kits?” His voice was just above a whisper, looking to Leafpool as she nodded slowly, love in her eyes as she looked between the tom and their kits.

Nightcloud gave him a small bump as she took a step back and sat down, Crowfeather following her lead although he found it hard to keep his eyes off the kits. “I wanted to wait to name them incase you showed up, the black kit is a molly, the other two are toms.” He looked back to Leafpool and nodded, his mouth feeling dry as he tried to speak. “I… I also want you and Nightcloud to have the black kit and the silver tabby, Squirrelflight will take the golden tabby. It’s best this way.”

Crowfeather was quiet for a moment before he moved closer and laid down across from the tabby. “Leafpool, I am so sorry for this curse I’ve given you, for the burden this kits represent.” Leafpool was shaking her head, tears pooling in the corner of her eyes.

“No, kits are never a curse or burden, no matter their parents or heritage, our kits are no different.” Crowfeather pushed his muzzle into Leafpool’s chest as he nuzzled her deeply, relaxing as he felt the molly nuzzle her back.

After a long moment, he pulled back from his former mate, the two smiling softly at each other. Leafpool looked down at their kits, leaning down to lick the black kit. “I think her name should be Hollykit,” she gently nosed the golden tabby, “and he should be Lionkit.” Crowfeather nodded before he gently pressed his nose to the little silver tabby’s head.

“And he should be Jaykit.” Leafpool looked up and nodded, smiling softly.

“Yes, Hollykit, Lionkit, and Jaykit.” Crowfeather opened his mouth to speak but Nightcloud let out a groan behind him. He turned and found the black she-cat slowly lying down, teeth gritted.

“Nightcloud?” He commented before flicking his ear back to Leafpool, watching as the tabby rose.

She pushed her way out of the den, Squirrelflight curling around the kits as Crowfeather watched Leafpool make her way to Nightcloud. “She’s kitting, Crowfeather, come here and keep her calm.” Leafpool quickly sat down by Nightcloud as she rolled onto her side. “Keep calm Nightcloud, you have a medicine cat here to help you.” Crowfeather would be lying if he didn’t hear the pride in Leafpool’s voice as she spoke, he knew this was her path and he was wrong to try to convince her moons ago.

 

.:.

 

Crowfeather couldn’t help but buzz with excitement as he carried Hollykit and Jaykit towards WindClan camp, being able to take a small piece of Leafpool back with him invigorated his spirits. He had felt lost when Feathertail had passed, Leafpool was a shoulder to lean on and he ended up falling in love with her as well. It hurt Crowfeather, somewhere in the back of his mind, that Jaykit had a similar look to Feathertail, but that was the past.

Beside him, Nightcloud carried their tom kit, Breezekit. Leafpool had been a blessing sent by StarClan, she helped the black molly and Breezekit was born without complications. After letting Nightcloud rest until nightfall, and allowing Jaykit and Hollykit to suckle alongside their half-brother, the four cats parted back to their own Clans.

As they entered the camp, they were greeted by a worried Ashfoot and Onestar. “Where in the name of StarClan-” Onestar’s words fell flat as he spotted the three kits, instead he let out a sigh of relief. “That explains why you went missing, go see Barkface before heading to the nursery.” Both parents gently dipped their heads before turning towards the medicine cat’s den, Ashfoot close beside them to get a better look at her son’s kits.

 

.:.

 

Squirrelflight followed Leafpool into camp, Lionkit dangling in her jaws. Brambleclaw was seated in the middle of the clearing, his eyes half shut as if he had been dozing off.

As the two she-cat entered, the tabby tom jumped to his paws and ran over to them, his eyes wide. “W-what-” Squirrelflight quickly slapped her tail to his maw as she set down Lionkit.

“I’ll explain later, but pretend you’re happy and that this is your son.” Brambleclaw’s open and closed a couple times before he slowly nodded, Leafpool refusing to look over.

“Leafpool? Squirrelflight?” Both mollies looked up to their father’s den, finding Firestar and Sandstorm looking down at them.

The firey-red tom leapt down Highledge, Sandstorm close behind him as other cats began to poke their hands out of their dens. “Oh thank StarClan you two are okay!” He went to nuzzle his daughters but paused as his eyes feel to the kit between Squirrelflight’s paws.

As if on cue, Brambleclaw sat down close beside the molly, nuzzling her. “Firestar, meet our son.” Squirrelflight nuzzled Brambleclaw back, thankfully he was playing along.

“His name is Lionkit.” Firestar looked up to Squirrelflight as she spoke, he looked surprised before it melted into happiness.

He pushed forward and began to nuzzle and lick his daughter, purring loudly. “I’m so proud of you!” Squirrelflight tried to push away with a small laugh as Sandstorm came over and gently bumped into Firestar.

“Careful, you might wake Lionkit.” Firestar instantly paused and looked down, crouching down to look at the kit, his green eyes round and full of love for his kin.

Squirrelflight looked to Brambleclaw, the two cats shared a look before pushing deeper into one another, their tails twining.

Chapter Text

THUNDERCLAN ;

Leader; Firestar

Deputy; Brambleclaw

Med. Cat(s); Leafpool

Senior Warrior(s); Sandstorm, Dustpelt, Brackenfur, Thornclaw, Brightheart

Warrior(s); Cloudtail, Birchfall, Whitewing, Spiderleg, Sorreltail, Ashfur, Stormfur, Brook Where Small Fish Swim

Apprentice(s); Berrypaw, Hazelpaw, Mousepaw, Cinderpaw, Honeypaw, Poppypaw

Queen(s); Ferncloud (Icekit, Foxkit), Daisyfrost*, Squirrelflight (Lionkit)

Elder(s); Mousefur, Longtail

Cat count; 30

 

WINDCLAN ;

Leader; Onestar

Deputy; Ashfoot

Med. Cat(s); Barkface, Kestrelpaw

Senior Warrior(s); Whitetail, Owlwhisker, Tornear

Warrior(s); Weaselfur, Crowfeather, Gorsetail, Leaftail

Apprentice(s); Krestrelpaw, Harepaw, Heatherpaw

Queen(s); Nightcloud (Jaykit, Breezekit, Hollykit)

Elder(s); Morningflower, Webfoot

Cat count; 19

 

SHADOWCLAN ;

Leader; Blackstar

Deputy; Russetfur

Med. Cat(s); Littlecloud

Senior Warrior(s); Oakfur, Kinkfur, Whitewater, Rowanclaw

Warrior(s); Crowfrost, Ratscar, Snaketail, Smokefoot, Snowbird, Toadfoot

Apprentice(s); Ivypaw, Owlpaw

Queen(s); Tawnypelt

Elder(s); Cedarheart, Tallpoppy

Cat count; 18

 

RIVERCLAN ;

Leader; Leopardstar

Deputy; Mistyfoot

Med. Cat(s); Mothwing, Willowpaw

Senior Warrior(s); Blackclaw, Reedwhisker, Mosspelt

Warrior(s); Voletooth, Beechfur, Rippletail, Greymist, Icewing, Mintfur

Apprentice(s); Dapplepaw, Minnowpaw, Pouncepaw, Pebblepaw, Willowpaw

Queen(s); Dawnflower

Elder(s); Heavystep, Swallowtail, Stonestream

Cat count; 21

 

*Daisy of ThunderClan has been renamed 'Daisyfrost'

Chapter Text

Hollykit flicked her tail in excitement as she peered outside the gorse bush that was the nursery, her green eyes watching with wonder as warriors and apprentices went about their daily lives. She knew that herself and her brothers were close to being apprentices, it would be any day now. She could feel it deep down in her bones and she was ready, ready to show her Clan mates what she was all about.

She was pulled from her thoughts as a thin tail brushed under her nose. “Hollykit, c’mon!” She turned ever so slightly to see Breezekit walking to the back of the den, his voice barely above a whisper. Her other brother was crouched at the back of the den, his ears pricked as his sightless eyes stared ahead.

Hollykit drew her attention back to Breezekit as he quietly walked around their sleeping mother, having to step over her back legs and tail to get beside Jaykit. She rolled her eyes before quietly following, crouching beside Breezekit. “Please don’t tell me you’re trying this again.” She kept her voice low despite wanting to get them in trouble, first she wanted to confirm her suspicions.

“We want to see what’s outside camp! Now be quiet and follow us.” Hollykit could feel the excitement rolling off Breezekit and Jaykit’s pelts, neither even argued over the term ‘seeing’. It surprised her, but at the same time, these two were becoming predictable.

“But the warrior code says-”

“Don’t start with the code again! Besides, you said we’ll be apprentices soon, and I want to see what’s out there!” Jaykit piped up this time, turning his attention to his siblings.

Hollykit rolled her eyes at them, her tail tip twitching. “Fine, you little kits can go out there then, but don’t come crying to me when I become an apprentice and you two don’t!” Breezekit and Jaykit shared a look before slipping into a rut and pushing under the bush.

Hollykit sat up, anxiety growing as she watched their tail’s vanish. She knew it was against the code, but what if something happened to them? She wasn’t sure she could live with herself if they got hurt, or even worse, killed. But she couldn’t tell Nightcloud, she didn’t want them in trouble. Not getting them in trouble also excluded every other cat in the Clan.

She let out the smallest of whines before crouching and pushing her way out of the den as well, only glancing back to make sure she wasn’t seen. She gave a quick shake of her pelt before darting after her brothers, keeping low and quiet until she was out of range of the camp.

“Breezekit? Jaykit?” She called, running as fast as she could as she kept her ears pricked. They couldn’t have gone far, not with Jaykit being blind. She had watched many failed attempts of them trying to get out, so she knew he couldn’t have learned his surroundings yet.

She slowed to a halt as she saw a wooded area ahead, it was still a distance away, but it was odd to see trees and thick bushes. She was sure it was still WindClan territory, but it didn’t feel like it should have been. WindClan’s territory was the moors; hills and open fields, not some trees blocking the sky, blocking them from StarClan.

Her thoughts were broken as two paws hit her back, letting out a screech as she rolled onto her back and began to slash wildly. “Whoa, hey, careful!” She froze as she looked up, pulling her forepaws in close to her chest as she stared up at her brother.

“B-Breezekit?” Her fear and confusion turned to rage as she gave him a rough shove. “Get off, rabbit dung.” Breezekit let out a snort but let her up, a smug looking Jaykit coming over and sitting down beside them.

“I told you she would attack you back, she doesn’t freeze like you.” Breezekit turned and sent Jaykit a nasty glare, but the smugness remain on the grey tabby’s face.

“Why’d you have to scare me anyways? What if some cat heard me? It would be your fault we’d get in trouble.” Breezekit turned his attention back to Hollykit as he rolled his eyes.

“Are you even a ‘kit? We play all the time.” She shook her head before turning to look back at the wooded area.

Breezekit followed her gaze, his eyes lighting up as Jaykit got up and stood beside Hollykit. “What is that over there?” She asked as Breezekit came up beside her on the other side.

“I don’t know, but I want to go look.” Without getting an answer, Breezekit took off at full speed.

Hollykit rolled her eyes before gently placing her tail tip on Jaykit’s muzzle. “Grab my tail, rabbit brain took off.” Jaykit, although he looked sour about needing her as a guid, gently took her tail between his teeth.

She lead the way down the slope, quietly warning Jaykit when there were rocks or dips. Eventually Breezekit returned and padded beside Hollykit, the worry evident in his body language. It gave her some satisfaction that he was too scared to explore without them, but that’s who he was; all hiss and no scratch.

Eventually they made it to the base of the wooded area, Hollykit tipping her head back to see the tops of the trees. “It’s so tall.” Her voice was above a whisper, and as she glanced to Breezekit, she saw he was tipping his head back too.

Jaykit just looked unimpressed. “I’m sure it’s really tall, can we go in now?”

“What if it’s not our territory?” Breezekit blurted out, Jaykit quirking up an eyebrow. “N-not that I’m scared, but what if they try and kill us?”

Hollykit let out a huff as she gently bumped his shoulder. “The warrior code says you can’t harm a kit, you’re fine.” Breezekit seemed to let out a breath he was holding, but she saw Jaykit smirk from the corner of her eyes, half wondering if he could read her thoughts as she spoke. “But you do look like an apprentice, and those are free game.”

Hollykit and Jaykit let out giggles as Breezekit tensed up and looked uneasy, but he tried to bluff them by sending a glare. “Har har, very funny, let’s go.” He took the lead before she and Jaykit could say anymore, the two other kits following closely as their laughing died down.

Jaykit stayed beside Hollykit now, their sides brushing as she warned him of trees and bushes. Breezekit eventually came and walked beside them, no longer wanting to lead and Hollykit was sure it was due to fear.

They stopped as they came to a stream, Hollykit quietly describing what she saw to Jaykit so he could build a picture in his mind. She hadn’t done this with him since they were younger, but this was new and exciting, she didn’t want Jaykit to miss out completely.

“Do we cross it?” Breezekit asked, staring at the fast flowing water.

Hollykit quickly poked the water with her paw, letting out a small mew of surprise at how cold it was. “Only if there’s stone somewhere, it’s too cold!”

The black kit leaned over to look out further, his amber eyes narrowing. “Well, it doesn’t look too deep, you can see the rocks on the bottom. The quicker we cross, the sooner we’re not cold.” Hollykit subconsciously nodded in agreement before poking the water again, this time letting the cold water submerge her paw.

She glanced to her brothers before setting her other front paw in, shivering slightly as a chill crawled up her spine. “You two owe me moons worth of appreciation since I’m going first.” She muttered just loud enough for them to hear as she waded in, panic rising up as the water lapped at her belly fur and she wasn’t even in the middle yet. But she kept wading on, trusting herself that she could make it across.

Her stomach rolled, this wasn’t right, this was how things went bad. She knew this, she knew it was stupid but she pushed on, holding in a whimper as she tipped her head back to keep her muzzle dry. She barely had time to realize what happened as she was just getting to the middle, her paws losing their grip on the smooth stones and slipping her under the water. She was sure she heard Breezekit cry out her name as Jaykit let out a distressed wail before her head went under, the stream holding her down.

Her head broke the surface as she drew in a deep breath, coughing up water before more entered. She briefly saw Breezekit running along the shore, wailing with Jaykit close behind. But she went under again, wanting to cry out as she felt her lungs ache.

Hollykit desperately tried to grab the stones along the bottom, but her mind was growing fuzzy as she held her breath. If she tried to breath, more water would try and consume her, but not breathing was making her light headed, unable to think clearly.

Just as Hollykit was on the brink of passing out, teeth gripped her scruff tightly and as her head broke the surface, she took a deep breath before coughing violently. She got a glimpse of brown and white before she closed her eyes and began to cough again, beginning to shiver from the cold.

She felt herself being laid down gently before her saviour began to massage her chest, barely even being able to open her eyes before she vomited up more water. “Hollykit!” She forced herself to open her eyes slightly to see Breezekit and Jaykit rush over, both hesitating as they noticed the brown cat.

“It’s okay, little ones, I’m not going to hurt you. I’m a medicine cat.” Hollykit glanced up at the she-cat, her voice was soft spoken and kind, and as she met the molly’s amber eyes, she instantly felt safe. “My name is Leafpool, what are your names?” The tabby asked, leaning down to start grooming Hollykit’s fur the wrong way to warm her up.

Jaykit spoke up before Breezekit, the black tom shying away. “I’m… I’m Jaykit, and that’s Breezekit and Hollykit.” Leafpool paused her motions and Hollykit let out a whimper before she vomited again.

“Those… those are lovely names. You’re from WindClan then, yes?” Hollykit assumed it wasn’t a verbal agreement as Leafpool continued on. “As soon as she’s done coughing, I’ll take you three back to your camp, I’m sure Nightcloud and Crowfeather are worried about you three.”

Breezekit let out a huff, Hollykit internally wishing Leafpool hadn’t mentioned their father. “Like Crowfeather cares, he barely even looks at us.” Jaykit let out a hum in agreement, but the two toms had very different reactions. Jaykit looked almost sad, but Breezekit was furious.

“He liked us at first, but a few moons ago he stopped visiting the nursery, Nightcloud’s sad about it.” Jaykit added softly, lowering his head.

Hollykit sat up slowly and gently, looking up at Leafpool. “But Nightcloud says he loves us as much as she does, he just doesn’t know how to show it.” She looked to her brothers, but neither could meet her green eyes.

“Yes, he is like that, but it’s okay. You have a whole Clan who loves and supports you three, and I’m sure they’re worried about you all right now.” Hollykit was positive there was something in Leafpool’s words that were a double meaning but she couldn’t figure out which. The tabby’s posture during them talking gave her away, she tensed when they spoke of their father, she froze when Jaykit gave out their names. Something didn’t add up but she was too tired to try analysing the situation.

“Leafpool, can you carry me?” Hollykit asked softly, the tabby nodding as she stood and gently gripped Hollykit’s scruff.

They quietly made their way back to the WindClan camp, Breezekit speaking only to warn Jaykit of obstacles. Strangely, the only thing Hollykit could think about was how she would be the one getting them in trouble, not Breezekit or Jaykit. Surely Onestar wouldn’t let them become apprentices now, they’d probably be doomed to being kits forever. The worst part, though, the worst was that she broke the very code she swore to defend, and she wasn’t sure if she could forgive herself for that.

Chapter Text

Hollykit pressed her ears to her head as Leafpool lead them into the camp, Owlwhisker greeting them. “Leafpool?” The tom began to bristle before Hollykit met his eyes, his fur flattening as he shook his head. “Whatever, come in.” He turned and lead them into camp, Hollykit shrinking into Leafpool’s chest as she saw her mother lying in the clearing with her front paws hiding her muzzle. Crowfeather was sitting beside her, his tail gently brushing along her back as he blankly stared at the ground in front of him. Onestar and Ashfoot stood close by with Whitetail and Weaselfur, Onestar making markings on the ground with his claws.

“Onestar!” Owlwhisker called, the brown tabby tom glancing up before he leapt to his paws.

“Oh thank StarClan! Nightcloud! Your-” he didn't get to finish speaking as Nightcloud was already all over her kits, Leafpool setting Hollykit down as Nightcloud licked all her kits roughly.

Leafpool quietly sat down as WindClan gathered around, Hollykit snapping her eyes shut. This was it, they would be kits forever. “I found them at the border, Hollykit fell into the stream and I pulled her out.” The tabby turned as Barkface and Krestrelpaw pushed their way towards the kits. “I got her to cough up as much as she could, but I didn't have any herbs with me.”

The brown tom nodded as he slipped forward to sniff at Hollykit, the black kit trying to hide in Nightcloud’s fur. She should've stayed in the nursery, she should've told on her brothers, she should've- “I'll keep watch on her for the next few days, it was StarClan’s will that you were there to save her.” Leafpool gently dipped her head, Nighcloud moving forward to nuzzle the tabby molly as they exchanged quiet words.

Onestar nodded in agreement as he stepped forward, and in one motion, Jaykit and Breezekit moved to be in front of Hollykit. “Yes, we’re very fortunate you were there, Leafpool. Please tell Firestar that we are in debt to ThunderClan for saving our,” he paused to look at Hollykit and her brothers, eyes slightly narrowed. “Our foolish kits.”

Leafpool parted from Nightcloud as she dipped her head once again, her eyes soft as she looked the at the kits. “Don't be too hard on them, kits will be kits.” Onestar let out a huff but gave a flick of his tail as he turned to leave. Nightcloud whispered something to Leafpool before she turned and stood behind Hollykit and her brothers again.

Ashfoot stepped forward in his place, giving a kind smile to Leafpool. “Thank you again, Owlwhisker and Tornear will escort you to the border.” Hollykit didn't get to hear the rest of their conversation as Nightcloud picked her up by the scruff and lead the way over to the nursery.

As soon as all four cats were in the den and Hollykit was set down, Jaykit and Breezekit began to talk over one another, trying to take the blame for all of the drama they had caused.

“Quiet!” Hollykit pushed herself to the floor of the den, Jaykit hiding his head in her shoulder as Breezekit hung his head. “I'm very disappointed in all of you, what if Leafpool hadn't of found you? Hollykit could have joined StarClan!”

“It's my fault,” Hollykit glanced in surprise to Breezekit as he spoke up, “I asked them to leave with me. I wanted to go see the forest, I asked Hollykit to go into the water first.” He hung his head low as Hollykit stared at him, lost for words. “I'm sorry, Nightcloud.”

The molly was quiet for a heartbeat before she let out a sigh and laid down around her kits, nuzzling them deeply. “It wasn't your fault, Breezekit, don't be hard on yourself. Mistakes happen, and I hope you all learned from this how dangerous it is to be outside of camp without training.” Hollykit nodded in understanding, realizing just how little and inexperienced she was. She was foolish to try and explore as a kit, how foolish she was to disobey the code.

“Will Onestar never make us apprentices now?” Jaykit asked quietly, Hollykit leaning into him to comfort the tabby tom.

Hollykit looked up at her mother as she let out a soft chuckle, gently drawing her tongue over Jaykit's forehead. “Don't you worry about that, you'll become apprentices soon, just don't get into any more trouble.”

“But we-” Breezekit started, his amber eyes round with doubt and worry.

“Hush, all kits misbehave sometimes, you three are no exception.” Hollykit looked down at her paws, ears flat to her head. “Besides, if we kept kits from becoming apprentices, all the Clans would be filled with kits running around!” Hollykit glanced up and let out a small laugh, Breezekit giggling along as Jaykit tried to hold in his laugh.

“Especially ThunderClan.” Breezekit added, Hollykit and Jaykit letting out louder laughs, even Nightcloud let out a small laugh.

“Nightcloud.” All four cats fell silent as Hollykit turned and saw Onestar poking his head into the den. “A word with you and your kits.” As their leader left, Breezekit let out a whine, but Nightcloud softly silenced him with a small 'hush’ as she stood and exited the den.

Hollykit glanced to her brothers, she saw how their faces twisted in fear, their tails between their legs. She quickly gave them small nudges, trying her best to look kind. “C’mon, Nightcloud said we have nothing to worry about.”

Jaykit looked a little better, but Breezekit stayed stuck to Hollykit’s side as they crossed the clearing to where Onestar’s den was. Ashfoot and Nightcloud sat beside one another, the black molly speaking quietly with the grey she-cat.

When the kits approached, Nightcloud gestured to them with her tail. Hollykit could feel Breezekit bristling beside her, and Jaykit wouldn’t have seen, so she took a deep breath and padded forward, keeping her tail against Jaykit’s side as she padded forward. A small, almost inaudible mew sounded behind her, and she didn’t need to look back to know it was Breezekit.

Ashfoot gazed down at the kits, tail tip flicking. “It was very stupid what you three did.” Hollykit saw Nightcloud send a glare as she pulled her kits closer with her tail.

“You’re not their mother, they don’t need to hear it twice.” Ashfoot let out a snort but remained silent, curling her tail over her paws as they sat in a tense silence.

Hollykit glanced to Breezekit, seeing the black tom was looking at Ashfoot in confusion. She was confused as well, Ashfoot had been nothing but kind to them since they could open their eyes. Hollykit and her brothers often did stupid things for fun, but she was never cross with them like she was now.

Hollykit flattened her ears to her head, they also hadn’t almost died in the times before.

Before she could dwell longer, Onestar returned, and Hollykit felt her stomach drop as Crowfeather followed the tabby tom. They hadn’t lied to Leafpool when they told her of Crowfeather’s distance from the family, and Hollykit figured he wouldn’t have cared if she died.

At the very least, he looked upset that she had lived.

“What were you thinking! Wandering down to ThunderClan like that, then playing in the stream! What a childish notion, maybe would should send you to ThunderClan or RiverClan, maybe you’d behave better there!” Hollykit cowered in front of her father, she had heard him angry before, but he had just exploded.

Nightcloud stood up and hissed at Crowfeather, moving to stand between the tom and her kits. “Say that again and you’ll lose your ears.” She spat, tail lashing as her fur bristled.

Hollykit’s eyes widened in fear as Crowfeather’s hackles raised, his claws glimmering in the moonlight as he snarled back at Nightcloud. “Enough!” Onestar pushed himself between the two, shoving Crowfeather away from the molly. “Look,” he gestured with his muzzle to the sky, “StarClan is not pleased to see this quarrel.” Hollykit’s eyes slowly moved up, letting out a whimper with Breezekit as a cloud drifted in front of the moon.

Nightcloud kept her amber eyes trained on Crowfeather until he backed down, her fur flattening as she returned to beside her kits, holding them fiercely close with her tail. Onestar remained staring at the sky until the clouds passed, the tom letting out a sigh before moving to sit between his deputy and the queen. Crowfeather moved to sit beside Ashfoot, keeping his distance from Nightcloud.

“Now, while the night is young, we must decide what will happen with Hollykit, Jaykit, and Breezekit.” Crowfeather opened his mouth to interrupt, but Onestar shot him a nasty glare as he continued. “They are here, Crowfeather, so you can’t badmouth them. They are a large part of this decision and they should be allowed to participate in their punishments and what they believe is fair.” Crowfeather pushed his ears to his head and looked away, tail tip flicking wildly.

“It’s all my fault,” Breezekit squeaked out, drawing the warriors’ attention. “I told them to leave camp with me. Let them be apprentices, I’ll stay in the nursery longer.” Hollykit was shaking her head quickly before looking up at Onestar.

“No, I knew it was wrong and I didn’t say anything, keep me in the nursery!”

“I made sure no one would see us leave, only going when it was clear! Keep me in the nursery!” Hollykit glanced to Jaykit, beginning to speak when Breezekit joined, all three kits arguing and talking over each other.

“Kits,” they froze and looked up at Onestar, Hollykit feeling so little as he looked down at them. “Before we make a decision, I want to know why you went to ThunderClan.” Hollykit looked to her brothers, glad to see they were equally confused.

Hollykit looked back to her leader, steeling her nerves. “We didn’t know. We, well, I saw trees and wanted to see what it was.” Breezekit nodded in agreement, Jaykit letting out a small hum.

Onestar looked to Ashfoot before looking back at the kits, his face softening. “No cat lead you there or told you to go?” All three kits shook their heads, Hollykit confused as to why Onestar thought otherwise.

The tabby tom was quiet for a moment before he stood and leapt up onto Tallrock. “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey, gather under Tallrock for a Clan meeting!” Hollykit pushed herself under Nightcloud, pressing her back to her mother’s stomach as she peered out between her front legs.

“Oh StarClan, we’re doomed.” Breezekit whimpered out as he pressed into Nightcloud’s side, Jaykit letting out a small whine as curled into Breezekit’s side.

Hollykit watched as the Clan gathered around; Morningflower and Webfoot exited the elders’ den, Whitetail helped the very round Grosetail out of the warriors’ den, Barkface and Krestlepaw padded away from their freshly gathered herbs, the remaining apprentices peeked outside their den before heading over as they gave sad looks to the three kits, and the remaining warriors gathered from their various spots around camp.

Onestar sat quiet and vigilant until Owlwhisker and Tornear returned, the two toms quickly rushing over and settling themselves among their Clanmates. Hollykit was terrified that he had waited for every single cat to be present, they were getting exiled for sure. She glanced to her brothers and they seemed to have the same thoughts as both crouched and began to whimper. Even Nightcloud looked tense as she held her kits close, tail tip twitching.

“As you all know, Breezekit, Jaykit, and Hollykit all ran off earlier and were graciously returned by Leafpool of ThunderClan. We are very fortunate that she was there, lessening the harm done to these three.” Onestar’s gaze swept over them, a look of amusement sweeping across his face. Was he excited about exiling them?! Hollykit grew furious at the thought but stayed safely hidden under Nightcloud.

“Breezekit,” all eyes went to the small black tom and he cowered, Nightcloud’s fur slightly bristling. “Come forward.” Looks of pity were shot to the kits as Breezekit slowly crept forward, keeping low with his ears pressed to his head.

“Onestar, you can’t-” Nightcloud fell silent as Onestar raised his tail, the tabby jumping down to stand before Breezekit. Hollykit spared a glance at Crowfeather, the dark grey tom looked shocked and she could see his claws digging deeply into the ground. Maybe he did care a little.

Onestar looked around the clearing before looking down at Breezekit. “You have reached the age of six moons,” oh no, he’s not a kit- Hollykit’s thoughts were interrupted as Onestar continued. “And it is time for you to be apprenticed. From this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Breezepaw. Your mentor will be Whitetail.” Stunned silence filled the camp, Hollykit was sure she had heard Onestar wrong. “I hope Whitetail will pass down all she knows on to you.” Hollykit looked sharply to Whitetail, the white warrior seeming as confused as the others before she jerked forward towards the newly named apprentice, both mentor and apprentice hesitating before pressing their noses together.

“Breezepaw! Breezepaw!” Onestar started, slowly gaining momentum as the apprentices joined in, quickly followed by the warriors and elders.

With one swift motion, Hollykit was shoved forward as she was roughly groomed by Nightcloud, trying to make her kit look somewhat presentable. Hollykit was still in shock as Nightcloud began the same treatment on Jaykit, they weren’t being exiled? They were being made apprentices?

“Hold on,” Crowfeather called as he stood, “why are you making them apprentices? Why are they not being punished?” Breezepaw looked to his father before moving to sit with Heatherpaw and Harepaw, both quietly congratulating him.

Onestar looked to Crowfeather, his face neutral as he padded a few steps closer to the grey tom. “Would you rather keep them kits longer and give the potential of getting into more trouble? Or would you rather they put that energy into bettering the Clan?” Crowfeather fell quiet, Hollykit hearing an almost inaudible growl from Nightcloud. “Besides, I’m sure this was all enough to scare them into behaving, right?” Onestar turned and Hollykit was already nodding to him, she assumed Breezepaw and Jaykit were as well since he turned back to Crowfeather.

Their father said no more as Onestar turned and went back to the base of Tallrock. “Hollykit, come forward.” She was nudged gently by Nightcloud, she glanced back and saw nothing but pride and love in her mother’s amber eyes. “You have reached the age of six moons, and it is time for you to be apprenticed.” Hollykit looked up at Onestar, unable to suppress her relief and joy as she bounced lightly on her paws. “From this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Hollypaw. Your mentor will be Owlwhisker.” The tom looked surprised, but he padded forward, Hollypaw smiling up at him as they pressed their noses together. “I hope Owlwhisker will pass down all he knows on to you.”

Hollypaw glanced out to her Clanmates as they cheered her new name, she was sure her family was the loudest. “ Hollypaw! Hollypaw! ” She looked back to Onestar and smiled up at him as she dipped her head in thanks before she ran over to Breezepaw and the other apprentices. Like Breezepaw, they whispered congrats and nuzzled her.

Jaykit left Nightcloud’s side as he stormed towards Onestar, tail lashing back and forth. “What about me? Don’t I get to be an apprentice?”

Onestar let out a soft purr in amusement. “Of course, Jaykit.” The silver tabby looked surprised but took a step back to stand where Hollypaw and Breezepaw had stood. “From this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Jaypaw.” Hollypaw couldn’t help but feel excited for Jaypaw, but she only worried who Onestar would pick. “Seeing as it’s been a while, I’ll be your mentor.”

Whispers shot around the clearing all at once, Hollypaw trying not be offended for Jaypaw.

“But he’s blind!”

“How could he ever help the Clan?”

“He’ll always need a guide!”

“Enough!” Onestar roared, looking around at their Clanmates. “You should all be ashamed of yourselves, he is as much able to be a warrior as Breezepaw or Hollypaw.” He turned back to Jaypaw, murmured something, and they pressed their noses together.

Hollypaw let out a huff as none of her Clanmates called out his name, she could hear Breezepaw let out a small growl beside her. “Jaypaw!” She called out, trying to emphasize the pride in her voice.

“Jaypaw! Jaypaw!” She heard Nightcloud and Breezepaw join in, soon the rest of the Clan was chanting along. Pride bubbled to her chest as her brother padded over, looking the happiest he’d ever been.

Hollypaw nuzzled him deeply, the other apprentices joining shortly after. “We did it, we’re apprentices!” She whispered, feeling Breezepaw and Jaypaw nuzzle her as they let out loud purrs. She was unable to contain her own purr as Nightcloud padded over, giving each of her kits a swift lick.

Hollypaw smiled up at her mother, and as she looked around at her Clanmates who had gathered around them, she was deaf to their chants as she watched Crowfeather. The tom quietly got up and padded to the far side of the clearing, lying down with his back to them.

She frowned slightly at the tom, but she vowed that, while she upheld the warrior code, she would make Crowfeather proud to call her his daughter.

Chapter Text

Lionkit sighed as he laid in his nest, looking out to the clearing as Squirrelflight and Ferncloud chatted idly. He turned to look at Icekit and Foxkit, frowning when he remembered they were much too small to play with him. He looked up at his mother, still surprised she stayed with him in the nursery when she hadn’t been able to feed him. The fiery-red molly often told Lionkit how she chose to stay with him since it was her duty as a mother. He was rather glad she stayed with him, Ferncloud and Daisyfrost* were nice, but it wasn’t the same as Squirrelflight.

“Can I go see Leafpool?” Lionkit asked, interrupting the two queens.

Squirrelflight paused, looking thoughtful before she nodded. “Sure, tell her I said ‘hi’!” Lionkit jumped to his paws, nodding as he pushed out of the nursery.

He smiled widely as he looked around, amber eyes falling on his father. The tabby tom was seated in the middle of the clearing, talking with Brackenfur and Spiderleg. Upon seeing Lionkit, Brambleclaw dismissed the two warriors and padded over. “Hey, my little warrior.” Lionkit let out a laugh as Brambleclaw gently pushed him over, ruffling his pelt with his paw.

Lionkit batted at his father’s paw, trying to sit up as a bemused Brambleclaw kept nudging him down. The small tabby tom managed to wiggle away as he quickly stood and jumped at Brambleclaw, the two toms laughing as Brambleclaw ‘fell down’ onto his side.

Both eventually calmed down enough for Brambleclaw to sit up, Lionkit holding in a giggle when his saw his usual sleek fur ruffered and dusty. “What’re you doing out of the nursery?” Brambleclaw asked, standing as he shook out his pelt.

“Going to see Leafpool, Squirrelflight said it was okay.” Brambleclaw let out a hum as he sat down in front of his son.

“Are you sure you’re not going for more honey?” Lionkit let out a giggle as he shook his head, Brambleclaw smiling softly. “Well, then off you go,” the older tom leaned down slightly, “I won’t tell Squirrelflight about the honey.” Lionkit nodded as he stood and took off towards the medicine cat’s den, glancing back to see Brambleclaw shake out his fur once again before beginning to groom it.

Lionkit looked back and slowed to a walk as he poked his nose through the hanging bramble tendrils, finding Leafpool at the back of her den. He pushed himself into the den, grinning at his best friend. “Leafpool! You have a new patient! I have a case of ‘lonely’!” Leafpool glanced back at him and let out a soft laugh, leaving what she was doing to pad over.

“Oh no, that’s the seventh time this moon!” She laid down on a moss nest, Lionkit joining her as she rested her head on her paws. “You better tell me all about it so I can treat you!” Lionkit let out a giggle, lying down as well. “How are you doing, Lionkit?” Leafpool asked, her voice kind as always.

“I’m fine, I’m bored though, Foxkit and Icekit are too little to play with, and Berrypaw won’t play with me anymore.” Lionkit let out a small sigh as he looked away.

Leafpool tipped her head slightly. “Why won’t he play with you?”

“He says that he’s going to be a warrior soon and can’t play with kits anymore.” Lionkit let out a huff, half hoping Berrypaw would fail his assignment so he couldn’t be a warrior yet.

“Well that was rather mean of him to say.” Lionkit nodded in agreement. “Have you asked the other apprentices to play?” Lionkit shook his head.

“They don’t play right, the play like I’m little like Icekit and Foxkit.” He let out another huff as he looked at Leafpool, the molly having a look of sadness in her eyes as she gave him a small smile.

“It’s hard being the only kit in a litter, huh?” The small tabby nodded, resting his own head on his paws. “Do you want to help me to get your mind off things?”

He glanced up at Leafpool, was she going to play with him? “Help you with what?” He asked, sitting up.

Leafpool sat up as well, glancing back further into her den. “I was sorting herbs and I could use some help.” Lionkit didn’t really feel like sorting herbs, but at least he could talk to Leafpool while she got work done.

He nodded as he smiled up at her. “Sure, but you’ll have to show me which are which.” She smiled softly at him as she nodded, standing and stretching.

“Of course, and maybe when we’re done, we can have some honey again.” Lionkit’s eyes lit up as he nodded, racing to the back of the den as Leafpool let out a small laugh.

 

.:.

 

“And then Thornclaw said that they found three fox cubs! One got away, but he said the scent trail lead out of the territory!” Leafpool let out a hum in amusement as Lionkit told her yesterday’s news, the kit unaware that the entire camp knew about the dead fox and her cubs. “Leafpool?” He looked up at the tabby as she licked honey from her muzzle. “What’s it like being a medicine cat? Do you wish you could fight off a fox?” He licked some honey from his paws, his eyes watching Leafpool closely.

She let out a thoughtful hum. “Well, being a medicine cat means you protect your Clan a different way than a warrior. I make sure none of our Clanmates get sick, and when they do, I heal them. I make sure their wounds heal so they can go fight off invading cats and foxes.” She was quiet for a moment, lost in thought. “I was sad about not being a warrior for a short while, I can’t have a mate or kits,” she paused, a faraway look in her eyes, but it was gone before Lionkit could mention it. “But all the cats in the Clan are my kits, I protect them in my own way.” Lionkit nodded, it made sense. While warriors protect the Clan with teeth and claws, medicine cats protect them with herbs and StarClan. “Why do you ask?” He was caught off guard by that.

Lionkit looked up at her, not sure why he asked in the first place. “I dunno, I was just curious.” He looked down at the honey at his paws, pushing it away slightly. “I want to be a warrior like Brambleclaw, I don’t think I could sort out herbs all day.” I have so much to uphold being the grandson of Firestar and son of Brambleclaw and Squirrelflight.

Leafpool let out a soft laugh as she stood and collected their honeycombs, taking them back to her storage. “Being a medicine cat isn’t for every cat, and that’s okay, but I bet you’ll be the best warrior ThunderClan has ever seen.” Lionkit felt pride fill him, it always felt good to hear that.

“You really think so?”

Leafpool returned and her eyes glowed with happiness as she nodded. “I know so.” She briefly touched noses with Lionkit as he let out a giggle, beaming up at his aunt.

Both cats quickly broke apart as a yowl came from outside the den, Leafpool quick to dart to the entrance and peer out. Lionkit poked his head out beside her, seeing two strangers allowed into camp by Sandstorm.

He heard Leafpool let out a sigh of relief before giving the small tom a nudge. “Go see the elders, I’m sure they have a great story.” He held in a whine as he began to leave her den, glancing back as she took a few steps out. “Mothwing, Willowpaw! Welcome, come in!” The golden tabby must have been Mothwing, the small grey tabby being Willowpaw.

He would’ve liked to stay and see what was going on, but as they vanished into the medicine cat den, he turned and headed over to the elders’ den.

As he pushed in, he saw Mousefur was fast asleep as she snored softly. Longtail was lying in his nest, but his sightless green eyes were staring outside the den. The pale brown tabby let out a sigh, Lionkit was sure the young elder was restless.

He quickly stepped back a few steps from the elders’ den before noisy padding over, relieved Longtail had his head up and looked happy. “Hi Longtail!” Lionkit squeaked out, somewhat embarrassed of the situation.

“Good evening, Lionkit. What brings you to the elders’ den?” Longtail asked, moving to get more comfortable.

Lionkit walked over to lay just off to the side in front of the tabby, his amber eyes big. “Leafpool said you would have some good stories.” Longtail gave a kind smile to Lionkit as he flicked his tail, Lionkit waiting patiently.

“Lionkit, why don’t you go play with the other kits for a bit, I don’t want to wake Mousefur.” Lionkit slowly slouched, hanging his head. “I’ll tell you all about Sunning Rocks once she wakes up.”

Lionkit just nodded. “Okay.” He couldn’t keep the sadness from his voice as he stood. “See you later, Longtail.” He didn’t wait for the elder’s response as he headed back into the clearing.

He looked for Brambleclaw again, but he couldn’t find the tabby. He could still hear voices coming from Leafpool’s den, so she wasn’t done with the RiverClan medicine cats yet. He let out a frustrated sigh before reluctantly padding back to the nursery, wishing he could just be a warrior already.

As he entered, he saw Daisyfrost had returned and was watching Icekit and Foxkit, Ferncloud missing. Squirrelflight was curled up and sleeping, a spot by her belly open where he could fit. Lionkit slowly padded over and curled up beside his mother, maybe a nap would let him forget he was just a kit.

 

.:.

 

Lionkit looked around, his amber eyes focusing in on an orange and black butterfly. He crouched low to the ground, like how Berrypaw had shown him, and began to creep soundlessly forward. He kept his steps light, making sure to avoid any rocks or foliage that he could disturb.

When he was a tail length away, he leapt, the flowers wavering under him. Lionkit looked under his paws, expecting to see the butterfly, but it was gone. He quickly looked up and saw it just above his head, beginning to fly away. “No, wait! Come back! I was just playing!” He began to run after the butterfly, watching as it gained more distance.

Suddenly, he let out a yelp and tumbled down a slope, landing hard on his side. He quickly sat up, failure rising up in him as he saw the butterfly crawl higher up until it was gone. Lionkit lowered his head as he let out a sigh, lying down and resting his head on his paws. “You almost had it.” Lionkit jumped to his paws, turning around sharply.

Amber eyes peered out of the woods, Lionkit terrified as he stood frozen. “W-who are you?” He called, staying in the light.

The eyes rose up before a large tabby tom walked out of the shadows, staying a fox length away from Lionkit as he sat down. The big tom was a brown tabby like Brambleclaw and had a big scar across his muzzle, other scars marked his pelt and his ears had many nicks in them.

“Don’t be afraid, I’m a friend.” Lionkit relaxed only a little, still wary about this stranger. “My name is Tigerclaw, what’s yours?” The tabby asked, his bushy tail wrapping around his paws.

The little tom hesitated, Tigerclaw didn’t smell familiar, he looked a lot like Brambleclaw, but he only knew his aunts in ShadowClan and RiverClan. “L-Lionkit.” He mumbled out, taking half a step back as Tigerclaw leaned forward.

“Do you want to play?” Tigerclaw asked, lying down to get on Lionkit’s level.

The kit gave his head a small shake as he took a couple steps back. “I… I should ask Squirrelflight before I play with you…” He began to turn around, wanting nothing more to do with this.

Tigerclaw simply nodded as he rested his head on his paws. “Of course, but I didn’t know you’d be this nervous about playing with a cat from StarClan.” He froze, turning back around to look at Tigerclaw.

“You’re a StarClan warrior?” The tabby nodded, Lionkit looking to the ground as he thought. “Am I dreaming right now..?” He asked quietly, looking up at Tigerclaw.

“Yes, but a good StarClan one. I came to you, Lionkit, I can see your potential.” Lionkit was bewildered, he was just a kit, how could he have potential? Did Tigerclaw know something he didn’t? “If you put that potential to use, you could even be leader one day.” Lionkit’s eyes lit up as he looked up at Tigerclaw, the tabby nodding.

Lionkit looked back down at the ground before looking up, his eyes slightly narrowed. “If you’re a StarClan cat, prove it. Tell me something that only a StarClan cat knows.” Tigerclaw looked amused as he rested his head on his paws again.

“Tomorrow, you’ll become a ‘paw and your mentor will be Brackenfur.” Lionkit froze, there was no way.

“You’re lying.”

Tigerclaw sat up and let out a small laugh. “Alright, I’m lying, I’ll join you tomorrow in your dream and we’ll see who was right.” Lionkit opened his mouth to speak, but everything suddenly looked blurry. “Now wake up.”

 

.:.

 

Lionkit woke up with a jerk, panting as he looked around. It.. it was a dream. But he couldn’t get those amber eyes out of his mind, those intense, strange eyes. It had felt like a normal dream at the start, but he couldn’t figure out where Tigerclaw had first joined his dream. He shivered at the thought of meeting a real StarClan cat, he couldn’t wait to tell Leafpool!

He paused, what if he told Leafpool and she thought that meant he should be a medicine cat? He didn’t want to collect and sort through herbs all day! He knew it was an important role in the Clan, but he wasn’t meant for that type of position, he wanted to be leader! He had a legacy to uphold!

I can see your potential, those had been Tigerclaw’s words, maybe he knew the same thing. Maybe he knew Lionkit’s destiny, maybe he wasn’t lying.

“Squirrelflight?” He poked his head up around his mother as Brambleclaw gently called her, his amber eyes shining into the den.

The molly woke up with a yawn, stretching out as he rolled over to look at her mate. “Yes? What is it?” She asked, yawning again.

Brambleclaw kneaded the ground, Lionkit tilting his head in confusion. “Firestar wants to talk with you.” The two warriors fell silent as Squirrelflight quickly nosed Lionkit back into the nest.

“Stay here, we’ll be right back.” Lionkit opened his mouth to protest but Squirrelflight was already half outside the den.

Lionkit let out a huff as he curled back up in the warm nest, sighing as he tried to fall back asleep, tucking his tail over his nose.

Unfortunately, he was unable to drift back to sleep, no matter how many times he tried to find a comfortable position, his mind kept wandering back to what Tigerclaw had said.

He jolted up into a sitting position as Squirrelflight rushed in, excitement in her green eyes. “Oh, finally, Lionkit! You’re being made an apprentice!” He knew he should be excited, but now he worried, had Tigerclaw guessed? Or did he actually know?

He was broken from his thoughts as Squirrelflight pulled him closer and began to groom him roughly, trying to get his fur flat. “Ouch! Squirrelflight! My fur’s fine!” The molly let out a snort as she continued to groom him, not letting up until he was sure he would shine as bright as the moon above.

“Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath Highledge for a Clan meeting!” Lionkit felt himself tremble as Firestar’s voice rang out loud and clear in the camp, Squirrelflight giving him a nudge to step out of the den. He wasn’t able to stop her as Daisyfrost and Ferncloud came to sit at the mouth of the den, mewing small words of encouragement to the tom kit.

He glanced up and saw Brambleclaw was beaming with pride, his eyes shining in the rising moonlight. “I’m so proud of you, Lionkit.” The tabby nodded as his parents flanked him on either side, walking him towards the gathered cats.

They lead him right to the front, Lionkit watching as Firestar bounded down the rock face to him. Lionkit looked back up at his parents and they gave small nods, Brambleclaw gesturing him to move forward.

Lionkit turned back around, Firestar smiling down at him. “What an exciting night, this is one of my favourite ceremonies to perform.” Lionkit felt himself shake, he quickly looked around and when his eyes met Leafpool’s, he instantly relaxed, his best friend was here to support him!

He looked back at Firestar, taking a deep breath as he met the fiery tom’s green eyes. “Lionkit, you have reached the age of six moons, and it is time for you to be apprenticed. From this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Lionpaw! Your mentor will be Brackenfur, he has granted us one of our best warrior, Whitewing, and with no doubt will make Lionpaw a fine warrior. I have faith Brackenfur will pass down all he knows on to you.” Lionpaw turned as Brackenfur padded forward, the two toms pressing their noses together.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be the best warrior ThunderClan has ever seen.” Brackenfur assured, Lionpaw feeling sick. But he nodded, forcing a smile to the golden-brown tabby tom.

“Lionpaw! Lionpaw!” He could hear his parent’s voices above the others, but Leafpool’s cheering caught his attention too, and he turned to smile at her, sickness forgotten.

“Let’s pick out a nest then get going, we have a lot of territory to explore.” Lionpaw looked back up to Brackenfur and nodded, excitement coursing through him. So what if Tigerclaw had been right, this meant that he was destined for greatness. He was excited to meet Tigerclaw again, ready to do whatever the tabby tom said to find his true potential.

Chapter Text

Lionpaw had managed to get a nest settled between Cinderpaw and Berrypaw, both greeting him with nothing but kindness. He was surprised of Berrypaw’s warmth after not wanting anything to do with him, but Lionpaw thought that maybe Berrypaw was making up for being cold. Cinderpaw at least had apologized, saying Couldtail worked her too hard some days.

Lionpaw didn’t mind so much with the molly, she wasn’t mean and rude like Berrypaw, and she seemed to genuinely enjoy talking to Lionpaw.

“What can you smell?” Brackenfur asked, pulling Lionpaw from his thoughts.

He parted his jaws, deep in thought. It smelled different here, he could smell the water but another scent was strongly there. “It smells strange.” He answered at last, scrunching up his nose slightly.

Brackenfur nodded. “That’s right, and it should, we’re at the WindClan border. Remember their scent.” Lionpaw nodded, taking a moment to drink in their scent despite wanting to gag.

“Halt! Who goes there?” Lionpaw jerked his head up, rushing towards them on the other side of the stream was a patrol consisting of four cats, two brown tabbies, a silver tabby, and a black cat. One of the brown tabbies had called out to Brackenfur and Lionpaw, he wasn’t sure who they were, but the silver tabby and black cat were about his size while the two brown tabbies were Brackenfur’s size.

“It’s alright, Lionpaw, we’ve done nothing wrong.” Lionpaw looked up at Brackenfur and nodded, his mentor sitting down. “Greetings, Onestar.” Lionpaw followed lead as he sat down, dipping his head as Brackenfur had done.

The one brown tabby came to a stop across from them, tail lashing. “What are you doing so close to our border?” He demanded, Lionpaw assuming this was Onestar.

“I was showing Lionpaw the borders, he just became an apprentice tonight.” Onestar stared at them before he too sat down, the other three cats sitting down as well.

Onestar let out a small hum as he gestured to the two smaller cats. “This is Jaypaw and Hollypaw, they became apprentices the night before.” Onestar was quiet for a moment. “I, too, was showing Jaypaw the border, Owlwhisker joined us with Hollypaw.”

Jaypaw gave a small nod, a small smirk on his face. “Our dumb brother didn’t want to come with us, he wanted to start training to fight right away.” The tabby tom sneered, Hollypaw letting out a snicker beside him.

Lionpaw didn’t mean to, but he started at Jaypaw, startled to see his odd blue eyes. “What’s wrong with your eyes?” Lionpaw blurted out, regretting it almost instantly as Jaypaw bristled and stood, the other three WindClan cat’s tensing up.

“What’s it to you? Never seen a blind cat before?” Lionpaw saw Onestar set his tail on Jaypaw’s back but the apprentice didn’t stand down. “How about you come over here and get a better look, then I can claw your muzzle!” Jaypaw spat, moving to enter the water.

Lionpaw jumped to his paws, moving to stand behind Brackenfur. “Jaypaw! Stop! The warrior code says not to trespass!” Hollypaw gripped his tail and gave a small yank, pulling him back.

Onestar let out a small growl as he glared at Jaypaw. “It was not a malicious comment, Jaypaw, ThunderClan doesn’t know a true warrior when they see one.” Lionpaw felt his fur bristle, and he could see Brackenfur grow uneasy as he stood up.

“Yes, only a true warrior of WindClan would almost drown in the shallow stream, you owe us, Onestar. Let’s not forget that.” Lionpaw noticed Hollypaw moved to hide behind Owlwhisker, looking rather embarrassed.

Onestar snarled at Brackenfur before rising to his paws, fur flattening almost instantly. “You Thunder cats think you’re so clever, you won’t be on top forever.” Onestar turned and lead the apprentices and warrior away, Jaypaw giving one last growl at Lionpaw before racing after his mentor.

Lionpaw waited until they were out of sight before turning to Brackenfur. “Are all WindClan cats like that?” The tabby tom looked down and gave a half nod.

“A few, yes, but it seems that Jaypaw is blind, I wouldn’t want an apprentice commenting on it either.” Lionpaw looked at the ground in shame, he hadn’t meant to insult the other apprentice. “And you’ve seen blind cats before, what was that about?”

“Longtail isn’t naturally blind! And Brightheart doesn’t count, she’s missing a whole eye!” Brackenfur let out a snort before turning back towards camp.

“Let’s go back to camp, I’m sure you’re tired by now. Plus, the gathering is soon and I want you well rested.” Lionpaw nodded, his heart racing as the squabble with Jaypaw slipped from his thoughts. His first gathering!

 

.:.

 

Hollypaw could still feel the heat in her ears as she glanced back at the two ThunderClan cats, both toms growing smaller as they padded away. She turned to look up at Owlwhisker, their eyes meeting. “Does every cat know about the drowning thing?” Owlwhisker let out a short laugh as he slowed their pace slightly.

“Only ThunderClan, I’m sure Leafpool told Firestar, and you know how fast gossip spreads in a camp. I’d be surprised if they didn’t know.” Hollypaw felt her ear grow even hotter as she hung her head.

“At least you weren’t made fun of.” Jaypaw spat, tail lashing still.

Onestar rolled his eyes as he gently bumped Jaypaw to throw the apprentice off balance. “He wasn’t making fun of you, and you need to stop picking fights that are not worth it.” Jaypaw let out a huff, Hollypaw able to tell he wanted to storm ahead but couldn’t.

“Well, that warrior made fun of me, that's worse than some dumb apprentice.” She muttered, ears flat to her head.

Jaypaw turned and gently nuzzled her, walking beside her. “It's not like he knew it was you, Leafpool would be rabbit brained to describe everything in great detail.” Hollypaw couldn’t take comfort in his words, her mind racing with fear. Is that how I’ll be remembered? “Besides, you should be happy!” She glanced over to her brother, surprised he switched to a happy tone so quickly. “It’ll be our first gathering! We can meet other warriors and apprentices!”

Onestar let out a small laugh as he looked down at Jaypaw, smirking at the silver tabby. “And what makes you so sure you’re going?” Jaypaw and Hollypaw fell silent as they shared a look, glancing at Owlwhisker as he let out a laugh.

“Of course you two will be going, new apprentices are the pride of all Clans.” Hollypaw smiled up at her mentor, feeling like she was suddenly filled with energy.

Owlwhisker and Onestar shared a look, they seemed to be in high spirits like her as well. “How about we race back, whoever wins gets the fattest rabbit tonight.” Hollypaw and Jaypaw beamed up at their leader as they nodded. Onestar glanced across the open field before looking back to the apprentices. “It should be a clear run for you, Jaypaw, there’s no rocks from here to camp.”

Jaypaw was quiet for a moment, and Hollypaw wasn’t sure if he was thinking of being snarky or was suddenly upset. “Well, it’s a good thing to know, since I’m going!” Jaypaw suddenly sprinted off, Hollypaw and the two warriors letting out laughs as they chased after.

“No fair!” Hollypaw called with a laugh, Jaypaw not slowing down.

She narrowed her eyes as she smirked slightly, pushing harder into the ground with each step, taking longer strides. She outpaced Owlwhisker and Onestar easily, and she was steadily approaching Jaypaw.

Hollypaw was almost taken aback with how fast she was, her legs felt stronger than they had ever been. It wasn’t ever like this before, she would race and tussle with her brothers, but they were all about the same speed. Whatever it was causing this, it felt good to speed past Jaypaw and knowing she’d get the plumpest rabbit tonight.

Chapter Text

Hollypaw couldn’t help but feel herself vibrate with excitement, she and Breezepaw flanked Jaypaw on either sides as they padded to the island with their Clanmates. As promised, she was allowed to take the fattest rabbit, though she ended up sharing with her brothers as it was too much for her to eat by herself. Breezepaw hadn’t complained, but Jaypaw had kept refusing until the black tom kept poking and teasing.

“Listen up,” Hollypaw jumped up in surprise, glancing to her side as Crowfeather padded beside them. She could hear both of her brothers sigh, and she would've as well if she still didn't want to try and make a good impression. “If you tell any cat something they shouldn’t know-”

“Back off, Crowfeather,” Heatherpaw snapped, moving herself between her mentor and the three apprentices. “They’re not stupid, plus Onestar already talked with them.” Crowfeather flattened his ears to his head before picking up the pace, catching up with Owlwhisker.

Hollypaw smiled at Heatherpaw, the light brown tabby smiling back with big eyes. “Thanks, it was obvious he’s been trying to say something since we came back to camp.” Heatherpaw nodded in understanding, nuzzling Hollypaw quickly.

“No worries, Nightcloud told me to watch after you guys and show you around anyways.” Jaypaw opened his mouth to say something but Breezepaw nudged him, the black tom muttering something under his breath that Hollypaw couldn’t catch.

Hollypaw returned her attention to the other molly and smiled at her as they padded side by side in silence, the black molly taking in every sight and sound as they grew closer to the island. Beside her, she could feel Jaypaw stumbling more, his ears swiveling as his sightless eyes looked around in wonder. Breezepaw kept taking off ahead, Crowfeather snapping at him once, and only once, which ended with a snarl from Nightcloud.

Hollypaw frowned, feeling her heart ache when she watched her mother and father fight. She didn't think it was fair for either of them to be unhappy with one another, she knew it made Nightcloud upset, but she couldn't figure Crowfeather out. She vaguely remembered he used to visit the nursery all the time, and near the end his visits, he and Nightcloud had a huge fight. After that, he grew colder and more distant while Nightcloud absorbed herself into anything her kits wanted.

She felt pride bubble up inside of her at the thought of how much her mother cared for her and her brothers, wanting them to know nothing but love. She hoped that, if one day she wanted kits, she could show the same to them.

Hollypaw was pulled from her thoughts as Breezepaw let out an excited squeak, his amber eyes big. “There it is!” Hollypaw quickly stood on her back paws, green eyes lighting up when she saw the tree bridge Nightcloud had told them stories about. It's bigger than I imagined!

Heatherpaw let out a small laugh as she nudged Hollypaw. “C’mon, it looks better up close.” She nodded to the molly, excitement spilling over as she struggled not to run ahead.

Before any progress could be made getting closer, Onestar stopped the group with a raised tail. Hollypaw looked around ahead, trying to see what he saw. She was about to ask what was going on before Heatherpaw nudged her, gesturing to the side behind them. Hollypaw turned and saw a group of cats coming towards them, a fiery-red cat in the lead.

“The tom leading them is Firestar, the big brown tabby is Brambleclaw the deputy,” Hollypaw nodded as she listened to the elder apprentice, taking in the ThunderClan cats. “And you already know Leafpool.” Heatherpaw had a teasing tone as she gently bumped into Hollypaw, the black she-cat letting out a small whine as the tabby snickered.

Both mollies fell silent as ThunderClan approached, Onestar and Firestar greeting one another with a dip of their heads. The two Clans began to mix as they made their way to the tree bridge, Heatherpaw moving to the ThunderClan apprentices, Nightcloud close to Leafpool’s side, Owlwhisker and Whitetail moving over to a smaller Firestar-looking cat with a white paw and Brambleclaw, the rest of the patrol staying separate from ThunderClan. Especially, to no surprise,  Crowfeather.

Hollypaw shared a look with Breezepaw, she quietly decided to stay with her own Clan. The feeling of uneasiness came with the thought of making friends in another Clan, she wasn’t sure she could fight a friend if it came down to it.

That thought was dismissed as they came upon the tree bridge, Hollypaw watching as Firestar took a step back to allow Onestar forward. “Come, WindClan!” He called, turning and jumping up on the fallen tree with practiced ease.

Heatherpaw came back to Hollypaw’s side, her blue eyes filled with excitement. “Okay, so I’ll stay with you across the tree bridge, Kestrelpaw said he’d help Jaypaw, and Nightcloud said she’d help you, Breezepaw.” The black tom made a noise but remained quiet otherwise. Hollypaw was just glad the it wasn’t Nightcloud helping Jaypaw, otherwise there’d be a whole argument.

Hollypaw nodded to the tabby molly, putting all her trust into her as she watched Whitetail and Ashfoot jump up on the tree. Both Kestrelpaw and Nightcloud made their way over, the apprentice going over tips with Jaypaw while Nightcloud kept saying how proud she was of her kits.

Heatherpaw and Hollypaw arrived at the base of the tree, Heatherpaw jumping up and paused to watch the other molly. Hollypaw felt so little as she stared up at the tabby she-cat, but she took a deep breath and lept up, Heatherpaw using her tail to steady the smaller molly. “I find it helps to dig your claws in a little, just to get a grip.” Hollypaw nodded as she walked behind Heatherpaw, the elder apprentice glancing back often as Hollypaw used her claws to keep herself from slipping.

Once her paws safely reached the other shoreline, Hollypaw let out a breath she hadn’t noticed she was holding. She turned back around and saw Nightcloud walking behind Breezepaw, gently speaking with him as she gave him little nudges forward when he stopped. Behind Nightcloud was Krestlepaw, followed by Jaypaw. The silver tabby had a grip on the medicine cat’s tail, looking bitter as his ears laid flat against his head.

Hollypaw smiled slightly as Nightcloud and Breezepaw made it, relief washing over her. But that relief vanished almost all at once as everything seemed to slow down, Jaypaw’s shriek reaching her ears as he slipped and dangled off the tree bridge over the lake below. She looked to the ThunderClan cats and saw a few pushing into the shallow part of the shore, ready to rescue him, the remaining WindClan cats beginning to push in as well.

She turned and looked at Nightcloud, the molly trying to climb back up and shove past Krestlepaw. Hollypaw snapped her eyes shut as she let out a whine, opening them when Breezepaw sharply shoved her. Her green eyes went wide as Crowfeather gripped Jaypaw’s scruff, his claws digging deep into the tree bridge as Jaypaw dangled over the water.

In a few jerky movements, Crowfeather brought Jaypaw up, setting him down on the bridge as Nightcloud got past Krestlepaw. Hollypaw leaned into Heatherpaw, letting out a small sigh as the brown tabby gently licked the top of her head in comfort.

As the rest of her family reached the other side, Crowfeather padded up to Breezepaw and Hollypaw with Jaypaw and Nightcloud, the large tom letting out a small growl. “Watch after your brother, he’s blind after all.” As soon as the words left his mouth, Nightcloud hissed and shoved him roughly away, Hollypaw able to feel her own fur bristle at the comment.

She turned to reassure Jaypaw, the silver tabby had his head low, sightless eyes on the ground. “Don’t listen to him, one day you’ll be the best warrior WindClan-”

“Save it,” Jaypaw interrupted, “I don’t need your pity too.” Hollypaw felt her heart break as his eyes slid up to hers, all she could see was pain and embarrassment.

Breezepaw came up on his other side, gently nudging him. “C’mon, Heatherpaw said there’s lots of cats to meet.” Hollypaw nodded in agreement, Jaypaw sighing as he gave in and stood up, letting his siblings lead him.

Hollypaw glanced away from her brothers as a soft tail flicked her cheek, turning to find Heatherpaw giving her a gentle look. “I’ll show you three where the apprentices like sitting.” Hollypaw nodded, smiling at the tabby as she turned and lead the way towards the centre of the island, pushing through the undergrowth.

Hollypaw turned to tell Jaypaw to follow, but saw Breezepaw already whispering to him, taking the lead as Jaypaw gripped his tail. Hollypaw waited, moving to follow behind them before her mother stepped in front. “Please watch after them, I don’t need either of your brothers getting into any fights.” Hollypaw nodded quickly, giving Nightcloud a half smile.

“Of course I will, don’t worry about us.” Nightcloud let out a loud purr and she gently nuzzled Hollypaw, letting her kit go first through the undergrowth.

Hollypaw looked around in awe, listening to Nightcloud talk about the large tree where the leaders sat, and the roots in which the medicine cats and their apprentices sit along with the Clan deputies, it was more than she ever dreamed. And the clearing! There was enough room for a Clan to live on the island! She briefly wondered why RiverClan hadn’t claimed this as their camp, but shook the thought off as she raced to catch up to Heatherpaw.

The tabby was seated with Jaypaw and Breezepaw, three other cats sat with them, one grey and white, another ginger and white, and the last a mottled pale grey, all three having a fish-y smell to them. They either like fish or they’re RiverClan, she thought.

“There you are! This is Minnowpaw,” Heatherpaw gestured to the first cat, “Pouncepaw,” to the second, “and Pebblepaw!” Hollypaw mewed out a shy ‘hello’ as the three cats greeted her warmly, she decided these cats liked fish and were RiverClan since they were very friendly as Nightcloud had told them as kits, plus their scent was a fairly large hint.

“I’m Hollypaw.” She introduced herself, Minnowpaw’s eyes lighting up.

“What a pretty name! I wish I was named ‘Holly-’!” The two toms beside Minnowpaw rolled their eyes as Pebblepaw gently nudged her.

“You were named ‘Minnow-’ for how fat you were!” Pouncepaw let out a loud laugh as Minnowpaw whipped around, Heatherpaw and Breezepaw laughing as she pounced on the mottled grey tom, both beginning to wrestle and laugh. Hollypaw felt excitement bubble inside her again, maybe gatherings could be fun and maybe she could make a couple friends.

“Tussling without me?! How dare!” Hollypaw turned and saw a creamed coloured tom with an abnormally short tail saunter up to them, three apprentices following the loud tom.

Heatherpaw let out a small laugh as she flicked her tail. “Of course we did, Berrypaw, you took too long!” Heatherpaw looked behind the tom, frowning slightly. “Where’s Poppypaw, Honeypaw, and Cinderpaw? And who’s the new ‘paw?”

A small grey and white she-cat came forward, ears flat to her head. “Firestar decided we had too many apprentices to bring all of them, a couple cats were mad that only one Clanborn apprentice was going.” The ThunderClan cats looked embarrassed as the molly spoke, Berrypaw’s confidence vanishing as he grew quiet.

Heatherpaw stood and gently nuzzled the she-cat, Hollypaw glancing over to Berrypaw and the other grey and white tom to see they were glancing down at their paws. “Hazelpaw; you, Berrypaw, and Mousepaw are as much ThunderClan as Cinderpaw and her sisters are, your Clan is just going to have to accept that. It’s been moons since Daisyfrost joined ThunderClan, and she’s not the first outside cat to join a Clan!” Hazelpaw nodded, seeming to relax before she turned and gestured to the small golden tabby behind the three older apprentices.

“This is Lionpaw, he was just made an apprentice-”

You!” Hollypaw turned just in time to see Jaypaw standing and bristling, Lionpaw moving to hide behind Berrypaw.

Breezepaw let out a loud and heavy sigh as he roughly bumped Jaypaw, sending a small glare as Jaypaw stumbled sideways. “Don’t even start, if I have to hear one more time that you’re mad at some cat for not knowing you’re blind, I’m going to pray to StarClan they take your tongue too.” The apprentices fell quiet, Minnowpaw and Pebblepaw halting their wrestling as Jaypaw and Breezepaw glared at one another, their tails whipping back and forth.

Hollypaw quickly and quietly pushed towards them, speaking low and quiet so only they could hear. “Don’t do this here, we don’t know what Crowfeather will do or say.” At that, both toms instantly relaxed, Breezepaw almost looking worried as Hollypaw sat back down.

“Wow! Hazelpaw, you should get some tips from Hollypaw for your brothers!” Minnowpaw chirped, most of the apprentices breaking out into laughter.

Hollypaw politely laughed along, blinking in surprise as Lionpaw sat down beside her. “U-um… I… I want to say sorry to Jaypaw, but, uh, he doesn’t like me very much…” Hollypaw felt her tail curl in amusement, glancing around to make sure the other apprentices were busy chatting before she gently bumped Jaypaw with her paw.

“Don’t freak out, Lionpaw just has something to say.” Jaypaw’s tail began to flick at the mention of the tom’s name, but didn’t say anything more.

Lionpaw gave Hollypaw a horrified look before puffing out his chest slightly, moving closer, but just out of range of a swipe. “Jaypaw, I really am sorry for what I said, I didn’t mean to sound rude or arrogant, I’ve just never seen a naturally blind cat before and it caught me off guard.” Jaypaw was quiet for a moment before he turned away, beginning to talk with other apprentices.

Lionpaw’s ears pressed to the back of his head, but Hollypaw was already shaking her head as she gently nuzzled him. “Don’t mind him, he’s a cranky badger. He didn’t try and fight you again, so I guess he accepted your apology, just don’t go looking for him as friend.” She hoped her teasing tone came through as he nodded to her, the tabby tom giving a small and hesitant smile.

Before anymore could be said, a white tom with black paws and ears pushed his way through the bushes, closely followed by a dark ginger she-cat. Two smaller cats pushed past what Hollypaw assumed was Blackstar and Russetfur, heading straight for the other apprentices. Heatherpaw turned to greet them, the black and white tortoiseshell dipping her head in greeting as the light brown tabby tom bounced over to Berrypaw.

“That’s Ivypaw and Owlpaw, she should be a warrior any moon now and he’s only been an apprentice for a couple moons, but it’s his first gathering, too.” Hollypaw nodded, thankful for Heatherpaw introducing all these new apprentices. It was exciting seeing so many new faces, but she was sure she’d never remember all these names and scents.

Hollypaw was startled from her thoughts as a yowl came from the tree, the black molly turning and watching in awe as the four leaders lept up into the tree. A spotted golden molly (Hollypaw guessing that was the famed ‘Leopardstar’ Nigthcloud had spoken about) sat on a higher branch across from Firestar, Blackstar sitting below Firestar, and Onestar sitting under Leopardstar. Hollypaw briefly watched as Leafpool darted away from Nightcloud, rushing to sit at the base of the tree with Barkface and Kestrelpaw while Nightcloud moved to sit closer to her Clanmates.

Once the gathered cats fell silent, Onestar stood up on his branch. Hollypaw’s eyes sparkled; she didn’t see Onestar standing there, she saw herself standing on that branch as she addressed the other Clans. “Prey is running well in WindClan, and the night before we celebrated three new apprentices; Breezepaw,” the black tom sat up tall, “Jaypaw,” despite his foul mood, Jaypaw actually smiled slightly as he at up straighter. “And Hollypaw!” As soon as her name was called, she sat up tall and proud, smiling as her Clanmates, as well as other Clan cats, called their names.

As Onestar sat down, Hollypaw caught his eyes and he simply smiled, giving her a small dip of the head before turning to look at Blackstar. The white tom stood as he looked out over the Clans. “We also have a new apprentice, Owlpaw, sit up tall!” A few apprentices down from Hollypaw, Owlpaw shot up onto his paws, a few warriors letting out a small laughs as the tabby sat down with an embarrassed look. But nonetheless, the four Clans called out his name and he smiled through his embarrassment. “And I have to graciously thank Firestar for the land he gave us, it was very noble of you.”

Hollypaw glanced around and saw the ThunderClan cats grow uneasy, above them Firestar’s tail twitched as he looked down at Blackstar. “You're most welcome, maybe you can find prey in a piece of land we find prey-poor.” The glint in Firestar’s eyes said it all, and Hollypaw had to bite her lip to keep from letting out a laugh as Blackstar looked slightly flustered.

Blackstar lets out a small growl before he turned and sat down, his tail flicking back and forth. Firestar stood next, a satisfied smirk on his face as he looked out on the Clans. “Prey is running well in ThunderClan,” Hollypaw froze as he turned to look at Onestar, and for a moment she thought Firestar was going to mention Leafpool rescuing her from the stream, but he looked away from Onestar back to the Clans. “And we have one new apprentice, Lionpaw!” Her sigh of relief was masked by the four Clans cheering for the tabby tom, Lionpaw bashfully ducking his head beside her.

As Firestar sits and Leopardstar rises, hisses come from some of the cats sitting closest to the entrance. She sharply turned to see Owlwhisker and Whitetail moving forward, their tails lashing as other nearby cats got up to investigate. Her two Clanmates jump, fighting breaking out between them and two intruders.

Hollypaw shot her head up to the sky, fear spilling over as no cloud even moved close to the moon. “Stop!” She turned as Firestar’s voice rang out, the red tom jumping down from the tree and weaving through the cats as quickly as he could. Hollypaw quickly stood up on her back paws to see what was happening, the other apprentices following her lead as they try and see why Firestar stopped them from fighting off the intruders.

“Greystripe?” Firestar’s voice was filled with shock and a hint of horror, Hollypaw barely able to make out the name from so far away.

Whitetail and Owlwhisker looked at one another before backing off, letting the grey tom and brown tabby* stand. “Firestar?” The grey tom had a hopeful look before his eyes darken. “You said you’d wait for me.” Sadness fills his voice, Hollypaw’s mind reeling.

Firestar pushed forward, nuzzling Greystripe deeply. “We couldn’t stay, there was no prey and the twolegs were trying to kill us, we had no choice but to leave.” Murmurs of agreement came from the older cats who had made the Great Journey, Hollypaw sharing a look with Breezepaw before turning back to the scene before them.

Firestar sharply turned around, eyes brightening despite his old friend still looked gloomy. “Despite all odds, Greystripe has returned to us! He’s returned home!” Around them, cats began to cheer and call out Greystripe’s name, the grey tom perking up slightly as his yellow eyes looked at the cats around them.

“And I couldn’t have done it without Millie.” The Clans fell silent as the brown tabby came forward slightly, dipping her head in greeting. “She helped me escape the twolegs, and for that, I owe her my life.” Firestar dipped his head, and Hollypaw couldn’t help but notice all the Clans, except for most of ShadowClan and a few ThunderClan cats, held back from going to greet Millie.

Hollypaw herself hung back, Breezepaw and Jaypaw beside her. Even Heatherpaw hesitated to go forward before opting to sit down a little ways off. Nightcloud, as friendly as she was, stayed by two RiverClan toms and a molly, all four whispering to each other. It was easy to tell this was a mixed reaction, but knowing what blood ThunderClan and ShadowClan carried**, it was easy to see why Millie was being celebrated.

“Squirrelflight told me that Greystripe used to be our deputy before the Great Journey, he was captured by twolegs and they left without him.” Hollypaw turned and saw Lionpaw had moved beside her, staring at the gathering crowd with an uncertain look. “Firestar only picked Brambleclaw because Leafpool had a vision from StarClan.” Lionpaw explained, his head bobbing as he tried to get a better look at the famous tom.

The black molly felt her stomach do flips, didn’t that make Greystripe the rightful deputy in the eyes of StarClan? Brambleclaw would have to step down in order to please StarClan and uphold the code, vision or not. “He has to be deputy then, doesn’t he?” Hollypaw blurted out, the apprentices still sitting near by turning to look. “I mean, he wasn’t dead, and the warrior code says-”

“How could he even be a deputy?” Berrypaw asked, looking over at the grey tom. “He doesn’t know the best hunting spots, or where the borders are.” A few of the apprentices were nodding in agreement. “Plus Brambleclaw doesn’t need to catch up on politics, or all the new cats. If you ask me, Brambleclaw should stay deputy.” Hollypaw was shocked. While, yes, it did make sense to keep Brambleclaw as deputy; the tabby tom being in that position broke the warrior code. They might as well be rogues if they didn’t follow the code!

“But-”

“Just stop,” Breezepaw started, “it’s ThunderClan’s mess, they have to deal with StarClan’s wrath and their double deputies.” Hollypaw opened her mouth to argue, but she remained silent, looking down at her paws as her mind began to stir. When she was leader, things would be different.

Chapter Text

Lionpaw padded quietly beside Berrypaw, Mousepaw, and Hazelpaw, all four apprentices sharing glances as they padded back to camp. He had no idea what Hollypaw’s problem was, or why she cared so deeply about the code, but it seemed like other cats had similar doubts as her.

Ahead of the apprentices, the older cats who knew Greystripe were surrounding him, asking questions of what their old home looked like, how he found them, and if he was excited to be home. Lionpaw noticed, though, that every cat was avoiding the same question.

Who was the rightful deputy of ThunderClan?

Lionpaw wasn’t ready for all the drama this one question would cause, other cats had voiced their own opinion enough as it was at the gathering, and most didn’t even belong to ThunderClan! How could WindClan or RiverClan even make suggestions when it wasn’t their problem? The choice was obvious to him; Brambleclaw knew the territory and he knew the cats, he was the rightful deputy.

Lionpaw hadn’t noticed he began to fall behind until a muzzle gently brushed his side, glancing up to find kind amber eyes looking down at him. “Everything okay, little one?” Leafpool asked, Lionpaw letting out a sigh.

“All of this is stupid, of course Brambleclaw should remain deputy, you had a vision and everything!” Leafpool gave a small smile, Lionpaw letting out a small huff at her.

The molly gently gestured for them to sit, Lionpaw glancing to the patrol before sitting with her. “Close your eyes.” Lionpaw quirked an eyebrow up, Leafpool rolling her eyes. “Just work with me.” He shook his head briefly before closing his eyes. “Now listen really hard, what do you hear?”

Lionpaw strained, opening his mouth to speak before a paw hit him gently on the muzzle, his eyes flying open as he jumped to his paws. “What was that for?!” Leafpool gently lowered her paw, amber eyes kind as always.

“Sometimes, StarClan only knows some things, sometimes they can’t see everything. StarClan watches over all of us, but when we’re far from home, StarClan sometimes can’t see that far away.” Lionpaw blinked his eyes in surprise as he sat down again, staring at the ground as Leafpool kept her eyes on him.

“So…” he glanced up at her, “so StarClan couldn’t see if Greystripe was okay, so they sent you a sign of who could replace him?” Leafpool nodded, Lionpaw letting out a hum in understanding.

Leafpool rose to her paws, Lionpaw joining her as they began to walk. “Firestar refused to name a new deputy, believing Greystripe was still alive. Firestar is a kind and wise leader, but sometimes he listens to his heart over his mind. His mind told him to pick a new deputy, but his heart told him Greystripe would find us.”

“And he did, he should have listened to his heart-”

“No, to not have a deputy for this long is against the code, plus the Clan would have fallen and stumbled through daily jobs without a voice of authority. We didn't know if Greystripe was even alive, and a Clan without a deputy means a weak Clan.” Lionpaw gave another nod, a small sigh following.

“I hope that Greystripe returning is as much of a surprise to StarClan as it is to us.”

Leafpool gently swept her tail over Lionpaw’s back, humming in agreement. “Me too, Lionpaw, me too.”

 

.:.

 

Leafpool and Lionpaw quietly entered camp together, he could see the different social groups sitting together as they spoke in low voices. Leafpool and Lionpaw shared a look before watching Squirrelflight trot over, a worried look on her face.

“Firestar is in his den with Greystripe and Brambleclaw, he wants you there too.” Leafpool nodded before quickly pressing her nose to Lionpaw’s, taking off towards Firestar’s den.

Lionpaw let out a small sigh as he sat down, comforted as Squirrelflight sat down close beside him and wrapped her fluffy tail around him. “Who do you think should be deputy?” He asked, looking up at his mother.

The molly was quiet for a moment before she looked down at Lionpaw. “Brambleclaw; Greystripe has too much to relearn and that could hurt us, especially with Blackstar going on his little power trip and WindClan’s apparent discomfort with Greystripe’s return.” Worry was laced in the molly's voice as her green eyes stared into the den her mate and sister vanished into.

Lionpaw hadn't even thought of that, but she was right; if Blackstar or Onestar started to put more pressure on the border, they needed some cat who already knew what they were up against.

“Firestar’ll pick Greystripe for sure.” Lionpaw was pulled from his thoughts as Berrypaw and Honeypaw came over, Berrypaw sitting down beside the golden tom.

Honeypaw gave the cream tom a small nudge, eyes slightly narrowed. “No way, not even Firestar is that stupid! Leafpool was sent a vision of Brambleclaw as our deputy, StarClan made their choice.” Lionpaw couldn't help but privately agree with the molly, every bit of evidence they gathered pointed towards Brambleclaw.

“I agree with you,” Berrypaw started, “but it's ultimately Firestar’s choice, even if no one agrees.”

Before any more could be said, Squirrelflight let out a small mew to silence them, her green eyes turning to gaze up at their leader’s den. His amber eyes followed and saw the three toms and molly leaving Firestar’s den, the four cats giving nothing away as they lept down to Highledge. “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather here for a Clan meeting!”

Lionpaw was sure he didn't even need to call the meeting, almost all the cats had already gathered at the base of Highledge, even the queens were sitting at the mouth of the nursery. He saw Longtail guide Mousefur out of their den, Brackenfur quickly and quietly explaining what had happened at the gathering to the newly awakes elders. Frostfur’s kits poked their heads around their mother and Daisyfrost, their small eyes glowing as they looked up to the fiery tom. ThunderClan, young and old, were looking to see who their deputy would be.

Firestar looked out over his Clan, Lionpaw feeling sorry that the leader had to pick between the two toms. “Myself, Leafpool, Brambleclaw, and Greystripe have come to a decision; Greystripe will step down and continue to let Brambleclaw be ThunderClan’s deputy.” Lionpaw was sure all he heard were sighs of relief, he himself letting one out.

From the middle of the group, Ashfur stood, head high. “Brambleclaw! Greystripe! Brambleclaw! Greystripe!” And with that, almost the whole Clan joined out in calling their names, the two toms looking more relaxed as they looked out upon their Clan. Lionpaw joined in, but he noticed that Dustpelt and Thornclaw hadn't joined in. Their silence made him half wonder how many more were also, seemingly, against this choice.

Firestar waited until his Clan grew quiet, his green eyes almost sad looking, but the look was gone as he began to speak. “Now, I want patrols continued as normal, but I want ShadowClan watched closely, who knows that they'll try. And for the time being, I want Greystripe to be trained by Squirrelflight.” Lionpaw glanced to his mother and saw she looked surprised, but the molly was quick to dip her head and give the grey tom a kind smile.

“Millie will also be training, Brightheart will watch over her until she receives her warrior name.” Millie dipped her head to Firestar as Brightheart made her way over to the tabby, the two she-cats quietly greeting one another. Lionpaw was surprised to see Millie not outwardly react to Brightheart’s scared face, greeting the molly like any other cat. Maybe there was hope for this kittypet after all.

Before Firestar could end the meeting, Millie stepped forward. From beside Lionpaw, Berrypaw let out a small “oh no,” as whispers began to circulate.

“Greystripe has told me much about Clan life, your naming system the most confusing. But I understand it is an important part of your culture here, and when the time comes, I will accept the name you give me.” Murmurs of surprise rose from the gathered cats, Lionpaw surprised himself she would allow the name change. When Daisyfrost had joined with her kits, she had argued for moons about her name, and Brook outright refused.

Above, Firestar looked relieved as he dipped his head to the molly, Millie moving to stand beside Greystripe. “With that, I'll let you all get some rest, dawn approaches.” As cats began to break up and head to their dens, Lionpaw couldn't help but notice that the camp was still rather lively, and he wasn't sure if it was because of Millie’s comment or Greystripe’s return. Squirrelflight stood up from beside him, gently locking his cheek before padding over to the pair, Brightheart making her way over as well. The two mollies spoke quietly to Greystripe and Millie before all four cats headed away towards the warriors’ den.

He blinked away from them as Brambleclaw padded over, the large tabby sitting beside him with his tail curling around his paws. “I was told you were my number one supporter.” His father’s tone was teasing, Lionpaw not having to look to know Brambleclaw was smirking.

“'Bramblestar’ just sounds cooler.” Lionpaw teased back, Brambleclaw letting out a laugh before nuzzling his son.

“Thank you, Lionpaw,” his tone had changed from joking to serious, Lionpaw looking up to see happiness and pride in his father’s eyes, maybe even a little bit of relief. “Now, go get some rest, I overheard Brackenfur saying he was taking you out early.” Lionpaw nodded quickly, nuzzling Brambleclaw, before taking off towards the apprentice’s den.

As he entered, he looked around the den, seeing Honeypaw was the only one in her nest, and she seemed to be asleep. Glad that he didn't have to hold a conversation, Lionpaw crept over to his nest and laid down, a large yawn escaping him. He curled up tightly, eyes falling shut as his breathing slowed.

 

.:.

 

Lionpaw crept through the undergrowth, nervous of finding Tigerclaw. Sure, the large tom had been right, but Lionpaw still felt uneasy about him. He recalled hearing his father mention a Tigerstar before, and that he was a cruel leader, but this tom didn’t seem mean or cruel. Lionpaw also didn’t know much about Tigerstar, his father and most of the Clan refusing to even speak the dead leader’s name. He didn’t understand why, but he didn’t dare try and push Brambleclaw or their Clanmates. Lionpaw had a thought of going to see Tawnypelt or Mothflight, but he was nervous of the repercussions of trespassing on ShadowClan territory as well as going through WindClan. Maybe at the next gathering he’d ask the two mollies.

“Seems I was right, wasn’t I?” Lionpaw jumped and spun around, relaxing only slightly when he saw Tigerclaw.

Lionpaw just nodded ever so slightly, his earlier concerns returning as he took half a step back. “You were, but it wasn’t too hard to guess.” Lionpaw had pieced together himself that the days before his ceremony, Brambleclaw and Firestar had been talking to several cats, Brackenfur one of them. He figured that that was a clue to him becoming an apprentice, the signs had been there but he hadn't been able to read them yet.

Tigerclaw let out a hum. “Yes and no,” he started. “How about this, in the coming days, ThunderClan will battle against WindClan, your Clan being victorious.” Lionpaw bristled slightly, trying to recall in that moment everything that could lead to a battle.

Sure, WindClan was uneasy about Millie, especially Hollypaw, but she was an apprentice and RiverClan also held the same feelings. Even some of his own Clanmates wouldn’t look at Millie! He also recalled that WindClan owed a favour for Leafpool saving a kit, they wouldn’t go into battle without redeeming that favour, would they?

“You’ve got bees in your brain, it would be stupid for WindClan to attack us.” Lionpaw tried to sound sure, but Tigerclaw loomed over him, Lionpaw’s ears pushing to the back of his head as his tail began to bristled.

“How about I propose a deal; if you don’t battle WindClan or if you do but lose the fight, I leave you alone for the rest of your life.” Lionpaw felt uneasy as he looked up into those dark amber eyes, wondering what Tigerclaw had to lose.

“And if we win?”

Lionpaw was sure the corners of Tigerclaw’s mouth twist upwards ever so slightly but vanished as he began to speak. “If you battle WindClan and win, I train you in the ways of a StarClan warrior until I think you’re ready.”

Lionpaw had to concentrate on not shaking as he looked straight into Tigerclaw’s eyes. “What if I don’t take the deal?” He didn’t see the massive paw until pain seared through his ear, blood, his blood, on the large tabby’s claws.

Lionpaw closed his eyes tightly, fear crawling up his spine as he held in a whimper. “Fine, I accept your deal.” Everything grew quiet, only then did Lionpaw dare to open his eyes, relief flooding him as he saw the sun peaking through the roof of the den.

He let out a small sigh as he looked down, narrowing his eyes in confusion as he saw dark bands around his paws that hadn’t been there when he went to sleep. He quickly gave one an experimental lick, hoping it to be just dirt, but panic set in as the darker patch refused to lighten.

Lionpaw stood up in fear, hearing complains from his denmates as he began to make a ruckus. “Lionpaw, stop moving!” Berrypaw snapped, glaring up at the tabby tom.

“Did you have a bad dream?” Cinderpaw asked, yawning as she sat up in her nest.

“Look at his ear! Was there a thorn in your nest?” Poppypaw asked, her amber eyes round as the moon as she stared at his ear.

Lionpaw turned, moving to flee from the den, but Honeypaw moved to block the entrance. “I haven’t seen thorns do that before, are you—hey!” Lionpaw shoved past her roughly, running across the clearing to Leafpool’s den, passing Brambleclaw as he went.

“Lionpaw?” He ignored his father as he sharply turned into Leafpool’s den, only feeling slightly relieved to see she was asleep in her nest.

“L-Leafpool!” He nudged her roughly, amber eyes popping open almost instantly as she raised her head.

“Lionp-” she yawned, “Lionpaw?” She blinked her eyes as she sat up, stretching slightly. “What are you doing? It’s the middle of the—blood?” Leafpool blinked in confusion as her nose twitched, and instantly she began to check Lionpaw over, stopping at his ear.

Not wanting to alarm her, he quickly used Poppypaw’s excuse and hoped he sounded half convincing. “I had a thorn in my nest.”

Leafpool looked doubtful but nodded, moving to the back of her den, the tom following as he let out a small sigh. “Lionpaw?” He glanced over his shoulder to see Brambleclaw at the mouth of the den, concern in his amber eyes as he took a couple steps in.

He was the last cat Lionpaw wanted to see right now.

“Brambleclaw,” Leafpool turned to dip her head slightly, “Lionpaw just cut his ear on a thorn in his nest.” Brambleclaw looked ready to say something, but instead, he remained silent as he dipped his head, turning and leaving them alone without another word. Was it Leafpool’s tone that silenced the deputy or something else? Lionpaw could only wonder.

Leafpool sent a look to her nephew before stopping at her herb storage, grabbing a wad of cobwebs. “So, are you going to tell me the truth?” She asked, beginning to lick his ear clean.

“I can’t, you’d… you’d be upset with me.” He caught Leafpool’s eye but she remained silent, a tense and awkward silence falling over them as she continued on the procedure.

He began to squirm as Leafpool took her time beginning to cover Lionpaw’s cut, her silence speaking a thousand words, forcing guilt to crawl up his spine until he couldn't take it. “Fine! I tried to back out of a deal with a cat and they slashed my ear!”

“What cat? And what deal?” Her reply was sharp as she set the cobwebs down, eyes intense as Lionpaw crouched down slightly.

He opened and closed his mouth a few time, unsure if Tigerclaw was watching right now or not. He was beginning to feel as if the large tom wasn’t a StarClan cat after all.

“I can’t tell you, I don’t want them in trouble.” Leafpool opened her mouth to speak but Lionpaw kept going. “I’m sorry, but I can’t, not right now.” He lowered his head in shame, ears flat to his head as his legs felt weak.

A soft sigh came from Leafpool as she sat down in front of him, nuzzling the top of his head. “If you need to talk, Lionpaw, I’m always here to listen.” She gently raised his head so she could look into his eyes. “You know that, right?”

Lionpaw nodded sheepishly, Leafpool’s face softening as she pulled him close with one paw, the two tabbies nuzzling deeply as Lionpaw felt himself begin to tremble.

What had he agreed to?

Chapter Text

Lionpaw felt his paws drag as he left Leafpool’s den at dusk, he had refused to sleep and refused the poppy seeds Leafpool had offered. He ended up sleeping in small bursts, but they seemed to tire him out more than if he had just not slept at all. But being exhausted was better than seeing Tigerclaw again.

Remembering that Brambleclaw had mentioned early training with Brackenfur, he looked for his mentor and his father. The last thing he wanted to do was wear himself out, but maybe if he did, he would become too tired to train that morning with Tigerclaw.

He blinked his eyes as a smell reached his nose, it was foul but not strong enough to pick up if you weren’t looking for it. He lifted his head, parting his jaws slightly as he looked around. His amber eyes narrowed slightly as he saw Millie limp out of the warriors’ den, letting out a small huff when he saw the cut on her shoulder.

Without much thought, he turned around and went back to Leafpool’s den, quickly explaining the situation to the molly. “Grab some marigold for me, I’ll soak some moss.” Lionpaw nodded, padding to the back of her den and looked over the herbs.

“Is it the bright yellow one?” He called, hearing a hum from Leafpool as she set her moss ball down into the small puddle. Lionpaw wasn’t sure how much she would need, so he grabbed four of the bright flowers, padding over to his aunt.

“Good, now let’s go.” Leafpool picked up her moss and padded across the clearing, Lionpaw glad to see the kittypet had decided to eat before her and Brightheart went out.

Brightheart saw them before Millie and she dipped her head in greeting. “Hello you two, Millie, this is Leafpool and Lionpaw.” The brown tabby turned and dipped her head as Leafpool dipped hers back, Lionpaw following their lead.

“Lionpaw said your shoulder was infected.” Leafpool spoke through the moss, moving to Millie’s shoulder and giving a small nod as she began to dab the wet moss onto the wound.

Millie looked surprised as she looked over to Lionpaw. “Are you training to be a medicine cat then?” Lionpaw knew that she wasn’t being rude, but he couldn’t help but feel his fur bristle ever so slightly.

“No—” Both Leafpool and Lionpaw spoke at once, both cats looking at one another before Leafpool turned to speak.

“No, he’s just my nephew, he spends a lot of time around my den.” Leafpool explained, Lionpaw able to hear Brightheart’s purr in amusement.

Millie nodded her head in understanding. “Ah, he must be a good hunter then, being able to pick out a small smell.” He opened his mouth to snap a response, how the smell of infection was strong and disgusting, but Leafpool shot him a warning look which made him close his mouth.

“He is a good hunter, he gets it from his mother, Squirrelflight.” Lionpaw was caught off guard slightly, Leafpool didn’t sound happy about mentioning his mother, she almost sounded sad.

“Yes, and he got his good manners from Brambleclaw.” Lionpaw felt his ears burn in embarrassment as he looked over at Sandstorm, the sandy coloured she-cat padding over with a smirk on the molly’s face as her whiskers twitched in amusement. Sandstorm turned and looked over to Millie, her eyes filled with mischief. “Brambleclaw was always getting into trouble as an apprentice, Lionpaw’s only been an apprentice for a short while, so he still has time—”

“Okay! We can stop talking about this now!” Lionpaw blurted out, Sandstorm, Brightheart, and Leafpool letting out laughs as Millie just smiled, holding back her own laugh.

Lionpaw felt relief as Brackenfur padded towards them, Brambleclaw just behind. “There you are, Lionpaw, I couldn't find you in your den.” Lionpaw shared a quick look with Brambleclaw but turned his attention back to Brackenfur. “Anyways, we’re heading out soon, eat and get ready.” Lionpaw nodded to his mentor, looking to Brambleclaw as he came forward to stand beside Lionpaw’s mentor.

“Brightheart and Millie will be joining you two, take them around the territory and get Millie familiar with the scents and boundaries.” Brightheart stood as she dipped her head to the deputy, Brackenfur nodding as the two mentors turned to look at Lionpaw and Millie.

“Are we ready to go then?” Brightheart asked, looking to Leafpool as she was setting the last of the marigold pulp on Millie’s cut.

The medicine cat stood and stepped back, dipping her head. “Take an easy out there, we don't need her infection to get worse.” Brightheart nodded, giving Millie a once over before leading the way to the entrance of camp.

Lionpaw wasn't sure how to feel about training with Millie. On one hand, she had traveled a far distance with Greystripe who had taught her some things, but on the other hand, she was a kittypet. He knew Firestar had once been a kittypet as well, but he was young when he joined and trained as an apprentice. Millie was a full grown cat, how could she possibly learn anything and respect and understand it? She herself had said she didn't understand why their names were important, and Lionpaw was sure that Greystripe would have tried to explain it at least once. It was bad enough ThunderClan carried mixed blood, but he didn't know if Millie even believed in StarClan.

Oh, please let no other Clan ask if she does! He thought, padding after his mentor as they headed into the forest.

 

.:.

 

During their walk around the territory, Lionpaw had an unfortunate amount of time to think about the darker fur just above his two front paws where his joints were. Upon asking Millie, she said that it didn't look darker and proceeded to ask why he thought it did. He quickly said that he was tired and was seeing things, but the molly didn't look too convinced. He was lucky enough for her to drop it, trotting ahead to catch up with Brightheart and Brackenfur.

He wasn't sure what this meant, was it something Tigerclaw had done? Was it some sort of marking to signify their deal? Was it to remind him? He shivered at the thought, knowing deep in his heart he was right, but he hoped to be wrong.

Lionpaw was pulled from his thoughts as they came to the stream marking the WindClan border, Brightheart and Millie walking down towards the bank while Brackenfur hung back with his apprentice. “Take in the scent here, it’s different than ShadowClan’s.” Millie did as she was told, jaws parted. Lionpaw had to hold in a laugh when she screwed up her face slightly.

“Oh, that’s a different smell.” Lionpaw held in a laugh as he sat down, half wondering if this was what he was like the day before, half finding it amusing.

“This is the WindClan border,” Brightheart explained, “the stream marks it, so it’s much easier to find and see unlike the ShadowClan border.” Millie nodded in understanding to her mentor before looking out across the stream.

“Why don’t we have until the tree line? Greystripe told me WindClan hunts only on the moors, surely they haven’t started hunting in the forest?” She had a point, Lionpaw hadn’t thought about that before as he turned to look between the two mentors.

Brightheart glanced to Brackenfur before looking back at Millie. “It’s just how it is. Back in our old home, we used to fight RiverClan over these large rocks. We used the rocks as a hunting ground, RiverClan used them to sun themselves.” Brackenfur nodded in agreement.

“They had to cross the river to get to the rocks, but they always fought for them.” The tom gave his head a small shake. “At least we only had to worry about RiverClan back in our old home, now we have to worry about ShadowClan and WindClan.” Millie nodded in understanding. “I think Firestar realized this too, that’s why he agreed to the easy border marker for WindClan.” Lionpaw nodded in understanding to himself, wondering why he had never thought of asking that before.

Brightheart suddenly jolted her head up, parting her jaws. “Wait, do you smell that?” Lionpaw parted his jaws slightly, glancing up to his mentor as he rose to his paws. “Why is it so strong?” Brightheart’s voice had dropped to just above a whisper as she began to sniff at the stream.

“What’s wrong?” Millie asked, standing as Lionpaw stood as well.

“They crossed the river.” Brackenfur’s voice was quiet as he went to opposite direction of the scarred molly.

Lionpaw and Millie shared a look before Lionpaw dropped into a crouch, keeping his ears perked and mouth slightly ajar to listen for any noises. Millie was quick to copy him, her big round eyes flicking from Brackenfur, to Brightheart, and back again.

Brackenfur suddenly shot his head up, looking back into their forest. Lionpaw turned to look behind himself, amber eyes wide as he waited. Was there a WindClan patrol somewhere?

A familiar grey tom pushed through the foliage first, Lionpaw letting out a sigh of relief. “Ashfur, thank StarClan you’re here, WindClan-”

“I know,” Ashfur interrupted Brackenfur, “my patrol scented it and we reported it back at camp.” As he spoke, Whitewing, Squirrelflight, Greystripe, Birchfall, Dustpelt, and Hazelpaw spread out along the tree line, beginning to remark the border. “Leafpool is heading to the Moonpool to speak with StarClan, in the meantime, Firestar wants us to match each scent, mind helping?”

Brackenfur nodded to Ashfur as he turned to Lionpaw. “Come on, I’ll show you how to mark our border.” Lionpaw nodded, glancing back to look at Millie as she greeted Greystripe with a gentle boop of their noses. He grew confused as he watched them sit down and watch their Clanmates mark the border, talking quietly to one another.

“Brackenfur?” Lionpaw looked up at his mentor, looking around to make sure no cat was in earshot of them. “Why isn’t Millie and Greystripe helping?” Brackenfur glanced back at the two cats before looking back to his apprentice.

“My guess is that Firestar wants them to regain our scent before they mark anything, we don’t need trouble from ShadowClan or WindClan.” Lionpaw agreed with the guess, it made sense, but he felt himself grow slightly bitter.

Lionpaw glanced away as he spoke under his breath. “We always have trouble.” If Brackenfur heard, he didn’t respond as he moved to a tree with the strong WindClan scent.

Lionpaw grew silent as he followed, worried for what this meant for his Clan. But as he began to mindless mark the border, he couldn’t help but let his mind wonder. He thought of Heatherpaw and her kindness, and he hoped he would see her again at the next gathering, maybe sooner if he was lucky.

Lionpaw held in a snort, the last thing he was was lucky. All he had to do was look at the discolouration around his paws to remind himself that. His stomach began to do flips, he prayed to StarClan that WindClan marking their border like this wasn’t a sign of the impending battle.

 

.:.

 

Hollypaw’s green eyes flew open as she raised her head, letting out a huff as she watched Jaypaw stumble into the den. Looking closer at her brother, he looked worn out and tired. She looked past him and tried to see if Onestar was outside, but she could see him lying in the middle of the clearing with Gorsetail. He clearly was asleep in the afternoon sun with his mate, but he looked like he had been there for a while.

Instead of asking where he was, she opted for how he was. “You look like you’ve been out all morning, are you okay?” She kept her voice low, conscience of Breezepaw lying beside her and Heatherpaw asleep behind her.

Hollypaw held in a sigh as Jaypaw turned and glared at her, his tiredness vanishing as his tail began to lash. “I just went for a walk, am I not allowed to do that?”

“I never suggested that.” She started, “it’s just that you shouldn’t be out alone, especially since Onestar said we’re about to go into combat.”

“It’s not against the warrior code for a cat to walk around their own territory, plus I know the land better, I knew to stay away from the border.” Hollypaw was confused as to why Jaypaw kept pressing on the fact it was just a walk, she didn’t care what he did as long as he was safe.

Before either could speak again, a very groggy Breezepaw lifted his head, his amber eyes barely open. “Keep it down, some of us like sleeping.” Without waiting for an answer, his head dropped back down as he curled in closer to Hollypaw.

She gave Jaypaw an apologetic look as he sent one back, quickly lying down beside her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to push, I just worry about you.” She kept her voice low, her eyes watching Jaypaw closely.

The silver tabby was quiet for a moment before he let out a sigh. “Okay, so I had a dream about the path to the Moonpool and I wanted to check it out for myself.” Hollypaw opened her mouth to speak, but Jaypaw pushed on. “Leafpool was there and I entered her dream, I walked with StarClan in her dream. When she woke up, I told her what I did and she said she wasn’t able to sense me.”

Hollypaw couldn’t help but feel her fur bristle as she stared at her brother. He could walk in another cat’s StarClan dream?! If he could do that, what else could he do? Could he enter her own dreams or thoughts?

“You shouldn’t do that again, and you have to tell Onestar or Barkface about what you can do.” A snort came from Jaypaw as he sat up and glared at her once again.

“No, I’m not telling any other cat, I don’t want to put any ideas into Barkface’s mind about me becoming his apprentice.”

Hollypaw tilted her head slightly. “Can he even have two apprentices?”

Jaypaw shrugged. “I don’t know, but I don’t want to be the first.” He grew serious again as he laid down and rested his head on his paws. “Just,” he paused, looking for the right words. “Please don’t tell anyone yet, I don’t know what this means for me.” Hollypaw opened her mouth to object, but ultimately, her loyalty to her kin made her cave.

She set her head beside Jaypaw’s, gently nuzzling him. “I won’t breathe a word of this to any cat, not even Breezepaw.” She felt her brother let out a sigh of relief as he closed his eyes.

Hollypaw waited until his breathing slowed before she tried to sleep again, unable to push down the fear of him entering her mind. The thought alone made her vow to steel her mind, making sure he could never read her thoughts or emotions. But Jaypaw’s newfound powers weren’t the only thing she was worried about; she was terrified of the coming battle and what it meant for her Clan.

Chapter Text

Lionpaw had been right; with tiring himself out from no sleep and the added effects of walking the territory, he had made himself too tired to dream, let alone visit Tigerclaw. He actually felt quite refreshed and excited for the night ahead. With his belly full and his mind clear, he was ready to face whatever challenge Brackenfur threw at him.

“Lionpaw, let’s go!” He was pulled from his thoughts as his mentor called for him, the older tom standing at the entrance of camp with Brambleclaw, Squirrelflight, Berrypaw, and Greystripe.

Lionpaw gave his maw a final lick before jumping up and running over, trying to ignore the proud looks on his mother and father’s faces, feeling slightly embarrassed. “Good, now that we’re all here, we’ll be hunting down by the ancient oak.” Brambleclaw informed them, Lionpaw finding it hard to contain his excitement. My first hunting lesson! “There’ll be plenty of mice and squirrels to practice hunting techniques on as they get ready for winter.” He didn’t mean anything by it, but Lionpaw took that as a warning. He needed to learn how to hunt before the first snow fell if he ever wanted to help his Clan.

Brambleclaw turned and lead the way out of camp, Berrypaw at his side. Squirrelflight and Greystripe went next, the older grey tom almost looking as embarrassed as Lionpaw had felt. Lionpaw brushed it aside, it was probably that the older warrior was nervous being paired with a younger cat. He and Brackenfur brought up the back, Lionpaw content with the line up.

The group padded in silence out towards the large oak tree, but Lionpaw could sense the worry coming from his father. Berrypaw has told him that the tabby was worried and stressed about the border along WindClan, their hostility at the gathering and now their heavy scent markers hadn’t gone unnoticed. Lionpaw wished he could say something to Brambleclaw or Squirrelflight, but the risk of them finding out he was talking with a dead cat was too great. He was still worried it would be read as a sign that he should become a medicine cat, regardless if Tigerclaw was right and his information should be relayed.

There was also the tiny fact that Tigerclaw might not be a StarClan cat at all.

“Alright, so Berrypaw and myself will be practicing hunting up in the trees,” Berrypaw grinned with anticipation, amber eyes bright. “Squirrelflight and Greystripe will hunt at the base of the tree and brush up on techniques.” Lionpaw saw Greystripe’s tail begin to bristle before he sharply looked away, tail fur lying down. “Brackenfur and Lionpaw will practice hunting on the outer perimeter of the ancient oak.” With his orders and instructions dealt out, Brambleclaw turned with Berrypaw and headed towards the large oak. Squirrelflight shared quiet words with Greystripe before they vanished around the other side of the tree, leaving Brackenfur and Lionpaw alone.

The golden-brown tabby turned to his apprentice, Lionpaw able to see excitement in Brackenfur’s eyes. “Okay, show me what you know so far.” Lionpaw gave a small nod, recalling all his play fights with Berrypaw and what he learned from the elder apprentice.

He dropped down into a crouch, his tummy fur just touching as his tail rested motionless on the ground. Brackenfur let out a small hum was he walked around Lionpaw, coming to a stop in front of him. “Not bad for your first try, he’s some tips; keep your tail off the ground, it’s good that you’re keeping it still, but even the slightest drag of fur could alert your prey.” Lionpaw nodded as he brought his tail up, waiting for Brackenfur to continue. “I like that you knew to get low, but again, we can’t have your fur drag, so raise yourself just a bit so the fur on your stomach doesn't touch, and try and put your weight on your haunches. If you do that, your front paws will be silent and you’ll be ready to pounce.” Another nod from Lionpaw and another correction. “Good, now before we get to actually hunting, I want you to practice stalking me, if I hear you, I’ll turn on you and we’ll reset, okay?” Lionpaw nodded as he sat up, watching his mentor walk a few fox lengths away before sitting down with his back to the tabby apprentice.

Lionpaw took a deep breath before he gave a small nod to himself. “Okay, Lionpaw, you can do this.” He mumbled to himself, dropping into a crouch and careful to make sure he implemented his corrections. He began to move forward when he saw Brackenfur’s ear twitch and the tom turned around.

“Move slower, I can hear you from here! You’re in no hurry when you’re hunting.” Lionpaw nodded more to himself than Brackenfur as his mentor turned back around. Heeding his advice, he began to creep slowly forward, watching his paws as he stepped over twigs and fallen autumn leaves.

He kept slow and low until he was about a tail length away from Brackenfur, his heart dropping when he saw Brackenfur’s ear twitch. Without much of a second thought, he lept at his mentor before he could turn around, both toms rolling to a stop.

Brackenfur let out a small laugh as he sat up, fur ruffled and dusted in dirt and grass. “Very good! If I was a mouse, you would’ve caught me!” Lionpaw beamed up at his mentor, his praise making him feel warm. “I was just about to turn around to say I could hear you breathing, but you gave me no time to react.” Lionpaw sat up as he nodded, listening closely to everything Brackenfur said. “Next time, focus on slowing your breathing and pounce when you’re closer. Sometimes acts of desperation will work, other times, it will not. But for a first try, that wasn’t half bad.” Brackenfur gave him a gentle bump with his paw, grinning slightly. “We’ll make a fine hunter out of you yet.”

Lionpaw couldn’t help but let out a purr of happiness, excited to share this news with Leafpool once they returned home.

“Now, I know things at our borders are tense right now and Brambleclaw wants us to hunt, but I want to teach you some battle moves. We never know when one of them will strike and I want you ready.” Lionpaw nodded as he felt his claws slowly slide out, Brackenfur’s voice turning serious. “Now, while we’re training, we sheath our claws.” Lionpaw nodded, forcing himself to sheath his claws.

Brackenfur nodded as he continued. “In combat, the best offence is a good defence. It’s a more advanced move and requires a patrol, but the moves you learn within it will help you. First, you hide downwind of your target and await the leader of the patrol to give the signal. Once it’s given, you launch on top of the enemy and aim for the ears.” Lionpaw held in a wince, understanding the pain that came from slicing an ear. “As fast as you’ve attacked them, you retreat into the bush and circle around to a different side. Rinse and repeat, your enemy will feel as if they’re outnumbered and retreat.” Lionpaw nodded, wondering how he was going to remember all this.

 

.:.

 

By the time the moon was at its highest point in the sky, he had learn several moves and techniques. He was fond of wrapping his tail around his leg, it threw him off balance slightly, but it was worth it if it meant his tail wouldn’t be bitten. He also liked the one move involving jumping on a larger cat’s back, Lionpaw was still small so he wanted to perfect this move as fast as he could. “Alright, now for the back kick-” Brackenfur was cut off as Birchfall exploded through the bracken, Lionpaw feeling his claws unsheathe as the tom panted and looked terrified.

“Where’s Brambleclaw?” Birchfall panted out, the large tabby in question padding through the bushes into the hollow with Berrypaw, Squirrelflight, and Greystripe right behind him, Berrypaw and Greystripe looking exhausted.

“What is it, Birchfall?” The tom seemed relieved as Brambleclaw padded closer.

“WindClan has moved the border! They’re now three fox lengths in our territory, Thornclaw, Brightheart, and Millie are already there awaiting you or Firestar.” Brambleclaw was quiet for only a moment before nodding, signalling with his tail for his patrol and Birchfall to follow as all signs of exhaustion vanished.

Lionpaw and Brackenfur shared a look before following, Lionpaw feeling as if his legs would be swept out from under him as he looked down at the dark bands around his paws.

As they came closer to the border, Brambleclaw slowed and allowed for Birchfall to take the lead back to the ThunderClan warriors who were waiting. Lionpaw subconsciously moved closer to Brackenfur as they followed, WindClan’s scent starting to overpower the other scents of the forest.

The two patrols met quietly, the warriors dipping their head to Brambleclaw. “Here’s the plan, I want Greystripe, Millie, and Lionpaw to hang back, once the fighting breaks out, I want Lionpaw to run back to camp and tell Firestar.” Lionpaw saw a few eyes look to him, Brambleclaw’s included.

He quickly nodded to his father as the large tabby turned and signaled for his patrol to follow. Lionpaw felt envy for Brambleclaw, his father seemed to be fearless while he himself felt terrified. “Before we fight, I want to try and solve this with conversation, none of you are to speak out of turn for any reason.” Mumbles of agreement rippled through the two patrols as they seemed to move in closer together, Lionpaw, Millie, and Greystripe remaining in the bushes.

The patrol padded to the lone WindClan cat, Lionpaw recalling this was their leader, Onestar, and stopped several fox lengths away. “Onestar, why have you and your warriors moved the border into ThunderClan territory?” Brambleclaw called to the older tom, his tail tip flicking.

Onestar stayed sitting where he was, giving no evidence he even heard. “I was hoping to have met with Firestar, not one of his warriors.” His voice was calm, but Lionpaw could hear the malicious intent directed towards Brambleclaw.

Brambleclaw’s tail bristled slightly, but he kept his voice even as he spoke. “I am not just a warrior, I am ThunderClan’s deputy. What you have to say to Firestar can be said plainly to me.”

Onestar’s whiskers twitched but he didn’t move. “So, Firestar chose you over ThunderClan’s rightful deputy? Such a shame, knowing your Clan continues to break the code.”

Brambleclaw took half a step forward, his voice was tight, as if he was trying to not let Onestar know it upset him. “StarClan sent Leafpool a vision moons ago when Greystripe was missing. We thought him dead, and he himself agreed to step down.”

“Still,” Onestar started, acting as if Brambleclaw had not spoken. “WindClan is the closest to StarClan, we are the most faithful by right. We declare that you, Brambleclaw, should be the one to step down.” Brambleclaw opened his mouth to speak, but Onestar continued. “We also believe that those with kittypet and rogue blood should be banished from your Clan.”

Brightheart stepped forward beside Brambleclaw, her fur slightly bristling, all orders be forgotten. “You’re asking for my mate and daughter to leave because they hold blood that was not their choice to have? Their loyalty is more important than the blood they bare!”

Brackenfur stepped forward as well, much to Lionpaw’s surprise, as the golden warrior seemed fairly reserved in Clan politics. “What say do you have to decide how we govern ourselves? We follow the code and praise StarClan, just like you, what we do in our camp or who we take in is none of your concern.”

Onestar sat there with a half amused look as the siblings protested, his eyes never leaving Brambleclaw. “We fight in the name of StarClan; reject your kittypets and rogues, or face the consequences.”

By now, Brambleclaw was bristled and his claws unsheathed, tail lashing from side to side. “We, too, fight in the name of StarClan; ThunderClan has no kittypets or rogues, only true warriors!”

Both sides were quiet for what seemed like ages, neither Brambleclaw or Onestar speaking as their tails flicked wildly. From where Lionpaw was, he could just hear growls and hisses from the ThunderClan patrol as they slowly spread out, eyes darting to the bushes in search of any WindClan cats. Lionpaw himself could feel his eyes looking around, Greystripe moving to stand in the bush as Millie crouched lower, eyes narrowed.

The silence was finally shattered by the clashing of bodies as the hidden WindClan patrol and the ThunderClan patrol slammed into each other, ThunderClan heavily outnumbered as cats began to entangle themselves with each other. Lionpaw was sure the entirety of WindClan was there, and they were fighting as if they were trying to drive out a foxes.

“Lionpaw, get help!” His father’s voice shot through the blood pounding in his ears, his eyes darting to the brown tabby under two WindClan warriors.

Lionpaw turned sharply as Greystripe and Millie shot out to help attack, Onestar’s voice ringing loud and clear through the chaos. “Crowfeather and Tornear, stop him!”

He let out a whine as he glanced over his shoulder, the black tom running from Brambleclaw and the grey tabby racing past Onestar, both heading towards him. He half thought about turning and fighting, but he had no idea how to fight off two warriors with no help, so he heeded the plan and raced home.

Seeing the ancient oak come into view gave him some hope, if he could lose them in the bramble patch, he had a chance of getting home. The only problem was the two swift toms were catching up at an alarming pace. Lionpaw knew if he veered off to the left, he could enter the brambles earlier, but at the cost of slowing down sooner and lasting longer. He briefly thought of taking the longer route, maybe at the point they would lose the battle, but the longer he took getting home, the chances of deaths rose. I know Tigerclaw wants us to win, but I can't be selfish and let cats die because he scares me!

He decided to stick to his previous plan, heading towards the training hollow where the brambles lightly protected it, maybe it would give the two toms false confidence for the larger patch on the other side of the hollow. “Please help me, StarClan!”

Lionpaw dropped low and slid into the first set of brambles, ignoring the pull at his fur as he awkwardly slithered through. He was correct in his guess though, Crowfeather cleared it with ease and Tornear had followed him through, both looking as if they had finally cornered their prey. Without a second thought or a chance to catch his breath, he once again entered the bramble patch, snapping his eyes shut to protect them as he half stumbled, half crawled through the thicker patch.

Relief flooded him as he heard the two toms hiss and growl with pain, their larger bodies unable to follow his smaller trail or jump over the patch as they had before. He didn’t dare stop or open his eyes until he reached the other side, willing the two toms to give up their chase and return to the fight proper.

He exploded from the brambles, eyes flying open. He didn’t even give himself a breather before he took off as fast as he could towards camp, his chest aching and body stinging, not sure if it was from the exertion or brambles.

He stumbled down the small ravine, tumbling into the clearing as the camp went silent, no doubt all eyes were on him. “Lionpaw?!” He glanced up and saw Firestar’s concerned face, grateful he was the first cat Lionpaw saw.

“Attack… WindClan… outnumbered…” Lionpaw wanted to say more, but his lungs refused to work as he sat up and panted heavily.

Firestar was quick to turn around, green eyes wide as he looked around. “WindClan is attacking at the border! I want the elders and queens moved up to my den, Spiderleg, Stormfur, Brook, and Sandstorm will stay behind to guard the camp, the rest of you, break into two groups, we will attack from two sides; one in front, and while they turn to run, one behind them. Leafpool, bring as much as you can, Lionpaw will help you carry them back to the border!” Without so much as a signal, Firestar took off out of camp, the warriors not called flooding out behind him.

Leafpool rushed into her den, Lionpaw following quickly though his body screamed at him not to move. “I can grab enough by myself, catch up to the patrol, they need every able body!”

Lionpaw nodded as he took off out of camp, barely seeing Stormfur and Brook helping Longtail and Mousefur while Spiderleg and Sandstorm helped Daisyfrost and Ferncloud. Was Firestar worried WindClan would attack the camp? What kind of cold hearted cat would attack elders and kits?! Those who don’t like kittypets and rogues.

The patrol was easy enough to catch up to, they moved at the slowest cat’s pace. As they closed in on the border, the yowls and screams were almost loud enough to turn Lionpaw deaf, but he stayed with the group who would attack first, scared of what he would see if he crossed over and would be forced to wait.

“ThunderClan! Attack!” At Firestar’s call, he and the first group shot out from hiding, joining the battle as quick as they could. Lionpaw was about to jump in and help his father who was still struggling with two cats when he was knocked over. He looked up and was torn seeing the triplets; Breezepaw, Jaypaw, and Hollypaw.

“This is what you deserve for disobeying StarClan!” Hollypaw’s words were like venom, did she truly think this was StarClan’s will?

Before he could dwell any longer, the two toms and molly jumped at him, his vision filled with black and silver as he tried to recall any moves he could. “Leave him alone!” He recognized the voice before he could fully process what was said; Cinderpaw had come to help him.

The weight left him, giving Lionpaw a chance to stand up. He instantly looked for the three WindClan apprentices, Breezepaw and Jaypaw in front of him and Cinderpaw, but Hollypaw was nowhere to be seen.

Breezepaw whispered something to Jaypaw before both toms pounced, Breezepaw beginning to tussle with Lionpaw as Jaypaw hissed and swiped at Cinderpaw.

“Aim lower, Jaypaw!” Lionpaw’s ears pricked at Hollypaw’s voice, but her voice sounded as if it was echoing all around him. Beside him, Cinderpaw let out a yelp as the blind apprentice drew blood.

While his attention was on his Clanmate, he failed to stop Breezepaw from sinking his teeth into his thigh, claws holding onto his back. Lionpaw was quick to turn and nip Breezepaw’s shoulder, waiting until he latched on again before flopping down on his side to crush the black apprentice. Breezepaw may have been older and started training before Lionpaw, but the golden tabby was almost twice his size. WindClan cats are so scrawny, he thought.

It pained Lionpaw to hear each call from Hollypaw followed by a cry of pain by Cinderpaw, he just hoped Hollypaw was watching him fight her brother, Breezepaw’s pelt becoming ragged though he kept trying to fight.

Almost as if it was an unheard command, Breezepaw shot towards Cinderpaw, Lionpaw about to pursue when another black cat jumped down from the tree above, cutting Lionpaw off. He instantly recognized Hollypaw’s green eyes and anger boiled inside of him, this molly was the one helping Jaypaw cause so much pain for Cinderpaw!

“You’ll regret coming to this fight, Thunder cat.” Hollypaw hissed, darting towards him. He dodged and rolled to the side, turning to snap at her tail only to find it wrapped around her leg like what he had done off and on while fighting Breezepaw. He met her eyes and only saw her smirk before she turned and pounced on him.

As they fought, Lionpaw grew more terrified of Hollypaw; she was fighting as if Brackenfur had also trained her. With Breezepaw, he hit many times but none carried any force, Lionpaw chalked it up to them having more stamina and simply used that method to win their battles. But Hollypaw hit as hard as he did, and at the speed of Breezepaw if not faster. With only a quick glance around, he saw it was the same with al WindClan cats; soft hits but more blows. Even Onestar was fighting the same way as Breezepaw! But Hollypaw was fighting as if she was trained by both Clans and figured out how to mesh the two styles together. It almost scared Lionpaw more than Tigerclaw. Almost.

Finally, once it felt like a few more hits and Lionpaw was done for, Onestar let out a yowl and dove into the bushes behind him. Lionpaw only noticed now that the reinforcements had long since joined the battle.

Hollypaw let out a snort, drawing Lionpaw’s attention back. The black molly was slowly backing up, her green eyes darkening as her tail flicked back and forth. “May StarClan light your path.” Her voice was colder than ice as she turned and fled, Breezepaw and Jaypaw running after her.

Lionpaw let out a heavy sigh, resisting the urge to sit down as he tried to catch his breath once again, his muscles aching more than he thought possible. He wasn’t expecting Cinderpaw’s cry as she skidded to a stop beside him, her blue eyes horrified. “Help! Lionpaw’s soaked in blood!”

Chapter Text

Lionpaw waited quietly beside Cinderpaw, upset she had drawn so much attention to him. He understood it was because she was worried, but he couldn't feel any gashes on him. Cinderpaw had argued that he was so tired because he was gravely wounded.

He was tired, sure, but not because he was leaking blood everywhere.

He looked around the battletorn clearing, Brambleclaw was limping as he moved to each cat, speaking quietly to them before moving on to the next cat, sometimes calling out to Leadpool before continuing.

As soon as WindClan retreated, Firestar took a pawful of cats to chase them off, Lionpaw assuming they would also remark the border in its proper location.

Lionpaw noticed a few cats lying down, some looked like they straight up collapsed as soon as WindClan fled, but relief came when he saw their stomachs raise and lower, even if it was ever so slightly. At least, it seemed, no ThunderClan lives had been lost tonight.

He glanced over to Leafpool, the light brown tabby going to each cat and checking them over. Brightheart had offered to help as she too padded around, cleaning wounds and pressing cobwebs, alerting Leafpool to larger and fatal wounds alongside their deputy. His aunt had rushed over to him at Cinderpaw’s call, but he turned her away until every other cat was treated. He didn't hurt and Leadpool hadn't believed that, but she quickly checked Cinderpaw before instructing the grey molly to run and get her if something changed with him. But Lionpaw knew that wouldn't happen.

He blinked his eyes as his mother padded towards him from Leafpool, worry in her green eyes. “Hey,” her voice was quiet, “how are you holding up?” Squirrelflight sat down close beside him, comforted as she wrapped her tail around him. Before Lionpaw could speak, Cinderpaw moved away a little to give them privacy, though her blue eyes were still on him as she sat down several tail lengths away.

He tried to ignore the grey molly's gaze as he looked up at his mother. “I'm fine, how's Brambleclaw? I saw him limping.”

Squirrelflight was quiet for a moment before gently nuzzling Lionpaw, not seeming to mind he was covered in blood. “He's just like you, he won't see Leafpool until the rest have been checked first.” Lionpaw couldn't help but feel a small rush of pride that he was just like his father, but he couldn't decide if it was a good thing or not right now.

Finally, after time had seemingly stopped with mother and son just sitting there, Leafpool padded over with her bundle of herbs, stopping at her sister and nephew. “I've treated every cat with large wounds except Brambleclaw,” she sent a pointed glare to the tom, “he would slice my ears to shreds if I didn't help you first.”

Lionpaw quickly looked around, narrowing his amber eyes at Brightheart as she continued to move from cat to cat, applying cobwebs and cleaning wounds. Leafpool turned and followed his gaze before letting out a huff and gently smacking him with her tail. “She’s helping with the smaller wounds, the injuries she can handle. I wouldn't lie to you, Lionpaw.” He looked back up at her before letting out a sigh and nodding, a sigh of relief coming from the tabby.

She began to nose him, gently pushing through his fur to get to his skin. As he and Squirrelflight watched, the more confused the medicine cat became. Leafpool finally stopped and looked up at him before turning around. “Brightheart! Come here please!” Lionpaw held in a sigh as the orange and white molly padded over, Cinderpaw rejoining them as Brightheart’s green eyes snapped to Lionpaw instantly. “Check him for wounds, I can't find any.” The panic in Leafpool’s voice threw him off, he told the medicine cat he was fine!

The process was repeated again, this time with Brightheart, but she too eventually came up with nothing. Leafpool and Squirrelflight shared a look before his mother got up and signaled for Brightheart and Cinderpaw to follow, all three mollies leaving the medicine cat and apprentice alone.

Leafpool was quiet at first, beginning to check him over again but at a quicker pace. “Lionpaw,” she started, sitting up as she narrowed her eyes slightly. “I hope you know it's very disrespectful to roll around in blood and worry all of us like that.”

Lionpaw blinked a couple times in confusion, tipping his head slightly. “I didn't roll around in blood, that's just gross and wrong.” It was Leafpool’s turn to look confused as she stared at him.

“Who did you fight?”

“Breezepaw and Hollypaw, I gave both some nasty wounds.” For a brief moment, he saw Leafpool shudder, but he chalked it up to her being squeamish about this kind of stuff. She said it herself; she protected the Clan a different way.

“Are you sure you have no wounds? I saw you and Hollypaw, she wasn't going easy on you.” Lionpaw was confused again, why did Leafpool sound proud about that? Maybe he just misheard her, he was awfully tired.

He simply gave a nod, raising to his paws. “I swear to StarClan, I don't have any wounds.” Leafpool didn't look convinced, but what more could she say? He told her the truth, even if she was too mouse-brained to believe him.

She gave a small nod as she stood, pressing her nose to Lionpaw’s. “Just… just clean yourself up and I'll add some cobwebs before we go home.” He nodded, watching as Leafpool turned and hesitantly walked towards their deputy.

Brambleclaw greeted her, not sitting until he looked to each cat and determined they were treated to his standard. Leafpool looked relieved to be able to see his sore paw as she quickly went to work, Lionpaw able to see the pain in Brambleclaw’s eyes though the brown tabby said nothing.

Lionpaw looked away as he let out a small sigh, beginning to clean himself, full of questions he had no answers to.

Why did I agree to that deal?

 

.:.

 

Hollypaw could still feel her blood boiling, her fur still bristled on the run home. Why had they retreated!? She was close to chasing off Lionpaw, she could’ve went and helped someone else! Breezepaw and Jaypaw were handling Cinderpaw on their own and she had lost sight of Heatherpaw as soon as they launched into battle. She was glad to find the tabby when they were retreating with very few wounds.

Beside her, Crowfeather was almost as mad as she was, his tail lashing as he growled under his breath. She knew exactly why he was upset, too; he was one of the few cats that had suggested RiverClan help them and was ignored. Hollypaw thought she had disagreed with him when he first proposed the idea, but maybe they would have been victorious if they had help.

Once they entered camp was when everything finally slowed down, racing hearts growing steady and bristled fur lying flat. The night air was cool and crisp, a silent reminder of the approaching leaf-bare. Hollypaw frowned at that thought, why would they enter a battle when the days and nights grow colder? Wasn’t it… stupid? Making their warriors and apprentices weaker before their deadliest enemy found them?

Hollypaw was pulled from her thoughts as Nightcloud was the first cat to run to the three siblings. Hollypaw saw she had a long but shallow gash along her side, but their mother ignored it and she gently nuzzled each of her kits. She could see the worry mixed with pride in Nightcloud’s amber eyes as Breezepaw and Jaypaw pushed forward to talk with her, their eyes bright as they spoke to her.

“You should've seen me! Hollypaw was calling out attacks from up in the trees as I fought Cinderpaw! I was close to beating her, too, when Breezepaw joined in!” Hollypaw was excited for her blind brother, happy he felt so confident about battling despite being sightless, but her attentions was drawn to the centre of camp where Kestrelpaw and Barkface were sitting and waiting with leaves full of supplies in front of them.

Relief hit her once again as she watched Heatherpaw pad into camp, Harepaw running towards her from Kestrelpaw’s side. The tom had stayed behind with Gorsetail and the medicine cats to protect the camp should problems arise, Hollypaw was surprised he wanted to miss this fight when he volunteered. Harepaw just said there was as much pride in staying behind as there was being in the battle patrol.

Beside Barkface sat Gorsetail, her eyes filled with anxiety as she watched the stranglers filter into camp, her blue eyes darting to each cat as they entered. The older tom spoke quietly to the queen as they watched the entrance closely, his tail curled around hers in comfort.

Leaftail and Ashfoot entered before their leader, finally, was the last to enter camp as he padded over to the medicine cats and his mate. The tom gently nuzzled Gorsetail before he turned and spoke in a low voice to the medicine cats, gesturing to a couple of their Clanmates before padding away from them despite Kestrelpaw letting out a sharp meow to come back.

The light tabby moved and sat down in the middle of camp as Barkface and Kestrelpaw began to seek out those injured, those with the deepest wounds being treated first.

Hollypaw privately thought Onestar looked older than she'd ever seen him before, he sat slightly hunched and his muzzle seemed to just slightly show grey fur, his eyes dark. “We need to view today not as a loss, but the ability to go up against a Clan with twice as many cats.” Hollypaw held in a growl as she looked away, any sympathy she had for the old tom gone. Their wounds and defeat said otherwise.

Crowfeather came forward, his tail still lashing as he moved towards Onestar. “You should have listened to me! We should have asked RiverClan to help us!” He snapped, Hollypaw able to hear a couple growls in agreement as she held in her own.

From beside Hollypaw, Nightcloud stepped towards her former mate, tail lashing. “Do you think WindClan can’t fight their own battles? That we always need to ask for help from another Clan?” Silence answered her as Crowfeather looked away, sitting down with his head low.

Hollypaw looked back to Onestar just as he dipped his head to Nightcloud, the molly returning the gesture.

The rest of the makeshift meeting was lost on Hollypaw was she stewed with her own thoughts, upset of ThunderClan's choices.

Brambleclaw had remained deputy, Greystripe supposedly stepping down. And then the added effect of them not denouncing their kittypet and rogue roots, violating the code! She wouldn't be surprised if less than half of the Clan believed in StarClan. They don’t denounce their kittypet blood or roots, they celebrate them!

As the meeting came to an end, Hollypaw was pulled from her thoughts as Nightcloud wished her kits well as she padded to Barkface, her tail dragging along the ground the only sign she was exhausted..

Once their mother had padded off, Crowfeather walked over to replace the molly.

Hollypaw could already see the look of disappointment on his face as he stood rigid in front of them. “You three did fine, but you need to fight harder if you ever expect to win.” Without another word, he took off towards the far side of camp, head down as he caught Nightcloud’s glare from beside Barkface. Surprisingly, though, Tornear padded over and sat beside their father, their heads close and low as they spoke.

Beside her, Jaypaw let out a loud huff as he sat down hard, Hollypaw pressing her ears to her head as Breezepaw let out a small sigh. “He could've stopped at the 'you did fine’ part.” Jaypaw hissed, Breezepaw nodding in agreement.

“The day he gives us a compliment is the day he goes mad.” Breezepaw muttered, tail tip twitching.

Hollypaw stayed silent as Jaypaw hummed in agreement, suddenly noticing both sets of eyes were on her. “What?” As soon as the words left her mouth, she knew they came out too harsh.

“'May StarClan light your path’? That was a little dark to say.” Hollypaw held in a growl at Breezepaw’s teasing tone. “I get this was an important fight and all that, but you need to relax with the code and StarClan.” Her eyes darted to Breezepaw’s, checking for any sign that he was lying.

He wasn't.

She stood up, tail lashing. “Without the warrior code and StarClan—”

“—‘we may as well be rogues and loners’, we all know that saying.” Jaypaw’s voice sounded bored as he laid down, blind eyes looking at her. “I get that you want to uphold tradition and all that, but times are changing and a battle like this was uncalled for. If they want to disobey StarClan or the code, then let them.”

Breezepaw gave a nod as he stood up, giving the molly a small smile. “We’re WindClan, not ThunderClan. So don't worry about those kittypets, as long as we follow our laws, then we will be blessed by StarClan.”

Hollypaw was quiet as she looked down to the ground, her fur lying flat as she heavily sat down. “I… I just…”

Jaypaw suddenly stood up and gently nuzzled her. “You don't have to defend yourself, we get it. But one day, there'll be a time when you have to follow your own heart and not rely on the code or our ancestors.”

Hollypaw rolled her eyes, Breezepaw letting out a small giggle. “Gosh, you sound like Barkface and Kestrelpaw.” He sat down and pulled some nearby grass with his paw and quickly put it in his mouth. “'You must follow your heart, Hollypaw, now take your medicine’." Jaypaw let out a hiss and he roughly shoved Breezepaw, the two black cats letting out laughs as Breezepaw’s grass went flying.

Jaypaw sent both of them a sharp scowl, tail lashing. “Whatever, I'm right; you guys are just being mean. If you let the code rule your life, you're no better than those who break it.” Without another word, Jaypaw rose to his feet and padded off to the apprentices’ den, head low and ears pressed back.

Hollypaw and Breezepaw shared a look before both shrugged, their eyes darting to the pretty tabby padding over to them. “There you two are, I wanted to make sure you both were okay.” Heatherpaw's soft voice was enough to soothe Hollypaw’s earlier temper as the molly sat down where Jaypaw had just been.

“We’re more than okay, Jaypaw and I fought Cinderpaw, Hollypaw was up in the trees telling him where to attack!” Breezepaw’s voice was full of pride, excitement coming back into his eyes.

Heatherpaw turned to Hollypaw with a surprised look. “How in the name of StarClan did you get up in a tree?”

“It wasn't too hard, really. I saw Brightheart climb up halfway to attack Leaftail on the ground, she did a nice landing, too. I just copied but kept going up to the first branch, Lionpaw was too stupid to look up.” She suddenly felt her ears go hot as Heatherpaw and Breezepaw stared at her with astonished looks, she wasn't used to this kind of attention from her siblings, let alone her peer.

“You just watched Brightheart climb a tree and managed to copy her?” Heatherpaw asked, Hollypaw giving a nervous nod.

The tabby quickly broke into a grin as she stood, excitement in her heather coloured eyes. “That's crazy you can learn that fast! Did you do anything fancy against Lionpaw that he tried to use on you?” Relief flooded Hollypaw as she nodded, beginning to recall the fight with the golden apprentice, how she had tucked in her tail, matched him move for move. Heatherpaw was absorbed with the tale, looking starstruck as she leaned in closer.

By the time the sun was just beginning to rise, the two mollies settled down near the apprentices’ den and quietly groomed one another. Breezepaw had long since gone into the den, complaining she was exaggerating and that ‘it didn’t happen like that’, but Heatherpaw had begged her to continue. Hollypaw could feel her eyes begin to droop as the other molly gently curled closer around her, too tired to feel her ears burn again.

Silently, they curled their heads down together, their muzzles only a mouse tail away from one another. Hollypaw wouldn't have it any other way.

Chapter Text

Here it is boys, shiny new tumblr link!!

 

https://wind-holly-and-jay.tumblr.com

 

I'll be uploading the chapters in the coming days, I'll try and play catch-up as fast as I can!!

Chapter Text

Whitetail quietly sat beside Weaselfur and Tornear, ignoring their idle chatter and boasts of the battle. She had no interest in their ideals of Clan politics or cared to boost their egos. The white molly had already made up her mind of how tonight would go, and she hoped it would end with Onestar either stepping down as leader or stepping up to support what was best for his Clan rather than his own agenda.

She let her green eyes wander around camp as she waited for Ashfoot, Leaftail, and Onestar to return. Whitetail gazed fondly at her apprentice, Breezepaw, as he and his siblings talked of their fights with their opponents. She was relieved that the black tom was such a quick learner and listened closely to her instruction. It was always a fear of getting an apprentice who had little desire to listen (she had heard Leaftail had been almost impossible to even give a simple task to), let alone actually absorb teachings.

Her thoughts drifted to Jaypaw before moving on, she found it strange the small tom held no resemblance to either of his parents or siblings. Nightcloud had defensively argued when asked by any cat, and Crowfeather only said that Ashfoot, his mother, was grey while he wasn’t.

Whitetail briefly wondered what the two were hiding, but she wouldn’t find out in her lifetime.

Her mind continued on, stopping to the elders’ den, both Morningflower and Webfoot had refused to see the patrol off. The elder molly had very eerily told them that 'StarClan had no room for cats like you’, both retreating into their den. They still hadn't come out since the patrol came back, Webfoot only poking his head out once to see who had entered camp. Whitetail couldn't help but worry for Morningflower’s warning, she didn't know what it meant, but it clearly wasn't a good omen.

Gorsetail caught the white she-cat’s attention as the queen let out a loud whine, Barkface quietly trying to soothe her. Whitetail held in a scoff, she thought it was pathetic that a queen, who the medicine cats thought wasn’t pregnant, was excluded from joining the battle patrol. Onestar had ordered her to say in camp and Whitetail knew it was because she could be carrying his kits. If I was in Gorsetail’s position, she thought, I would have torn his ears to shreds!

Her ear twitched as the entrance to camp rustled, and as if on command, she rose to her paws and tensed up. ThunderClan wasn't one to chase after a fight, but WindClan wasn't know for starting religious battles either.

Relief came as Leaftail and Ashfoot pushed it, Whitetail able to see some nasty claw marks on Leaftail’s back, Ashfoot only having nicks and gashes along her muzzle.

Lastly, Onestar padded in, head low and tail dragging. Whitetail stared at him in disgust, offended that he was putting on any type of in-need-of-sympathy act. He lead them into battle, it was his burden to carry alone.

She barely felt sorry for him.

She kept her green eyes on her leader as he padded to the medicine cats and his mate, sharing only a few quick words with her before speaking to Barkface and Kestrelpaw, gesturing to some of their Clanmates, before turning and walking towards Whitetail.

She hardly wanted to speak with him, but was glad to find he stopped in the middle of camp and sat down. He didn't have to call a meeting, the Clan was already waiting. Whitetail had made sure that the Clan was awake and present, this meeting was too important to miss.

“We need to view today not as a loss, but the ability to go up against a Clan with twice as many cats.” Whitetail felt rage fill up inside her, how dare he speak of victory when Owlwhisker could barely breathe! Or the long gash along Nightcloud’s side that must have been painful! This was by no means a victory!

Crowfeather came forward, his tail lashing back and forth as he moved towards Onestar. “You should have listened to me! We should have asked RiverClan to help us!” He snapped, Whitetail privately agreeing as she let out a tiny growl.

But this battle wasn't about winning, not for Onestar.

Whitetail’s eyes darted to Nightcloud as she stepped towards her former mate, tail lashing. “Do you think WindClan can’t fight their own battles? That we always need to ask for help from another Clan?” Silence answered her as Crowfeather looked away, sitting down with his head low as his tail tip continued to flick.

Whitetail didn't understand why Crowfeather had estranged himself from his own mate and kits, but what bothered the molly was that Nightcloud was always ready to remind him that they weren't mates. Whether it be over a piece of fresh-kill or battle strategy, she would always argue and pick fights.

Whitetail looked away from the black molly as she and Onestar dipped their heads to one another, Onestar sitting up taller. “Now, as I was saying, if we can go up against ThunderClan, then we need strike again as soon as we can. They'll be weak from this-”

“Enough!” Whitetail snapped, standing and glaring at her former mentor. “We cannot fight an enemy who has more than twice our warriors with leaf-bare approaching!” She couldn't help but lash her tail, mildly upset she couldn't keep a calm and cool composure.

Onestar was silent for only a moment before speaking, keeping his voice even and low. “Let's go talk in my den, Whitetail.”

Her green eyes blazed with anger as she took a step forward, Onestar looking concerned. “No, what I have to say is for the whole Clan to hear.” Whitetail heard whispers shoot around her, but she ignored it as she continued on. “Onestar, you have to stop this, you can't prepare these types of battles without your Clan. When Tallstar was leader, he made sure we always cast stones, even when ShadowClan chased us out of the old territories! The stones were cast and we decided to leave!”

Onestar let out a snort, eyes narrowed. “You weren't even born when we were forced to leave our home in the forest, what would you know of that choice?” Onestar almost had a smug look that she didn’t care for.

Whitetail held in a growl as she glared at him. “More than you, apparently. It is a tradition to cast stones with the Clan when the decision affects all of us. That tradition seems lost on you.” Surprised whispers shot out behind Whitetail, she wanted to continue on, but she waited for him to answer before she spoke again.

Onestar’s pelt bristled slightly as he glared at her, but Whitetail knew her ideals and she knew what her Clanmates thought. “Whitetail, you are out of place, I am your leader and you shall respect my decisions! You supported me being leader! You can't go back on that now!”

She held in a growl as she stood up, allowing for her voice to get louder so no ears were deaf to her words. “I don't know if you just don't understand or if you truly are that daft, but you are walking on thin ice, Onestar. Yes, I supported you when Mudclaw tried to form a rebellion, but I didn't want to. You were the lesser of two evils; Mudclaw would've drove us into countless fights, and who knows what he was planning with Hawkfrost.

“You, on the other paw, you weren't a deputy, you weren't blessed as Tallstar’s choice, you had no experience for the position that was handed to you.”

“The falling tree was my blessing.” Onestar snapped, Whitetail holding back a snarl.

“I think what happened to Mudclaw was unfortunate for him, but I don't believe that it was a sign. I'm not the only cat who thinks so either.” Whitetail didn't mean to, but her eyes caught Crowfeather and Tornear’s. Both toms were quick to look away, as was Whitetail.

“Are you suggesting that it wasn't StarClan’s plan to kill him for trying to kill those against him?!” Onestar had rose to his paws, his eyes blazing in anger.

“Onestar, it was storming and ThunderClan had come to back us up thanks to Mistyfoot’s warning, if it wasn't for ThunderClan, I could very well be speaking to Mudstar right now while you watch on from StarClan.” Uneasy whispers filled the clearing, she knew that for most of these cats, Mudclaw was definitely the least popular choice of leader. “But that's the problem, isn't it?”

Their leader grew quiet as he stared at the white molly, the fire in his eyes slowly dying. “What do you mean? Don't speak in tongues, Whitetail.”

“You know what I mean; you're so desperate to look strong after asking Firestar for so much help that you're willing to let us lay down our lives to prove yourself right! We are not spiritless bodies, we are not meant to be thrown around!” She quickly stalked up to Onestar, holding back a grin as he tried to back away. “We are not here to fight ThunderClan every waking moments of our lives.”

Whitetail took a step back as she looked around at her Clanmates, relieved to see most seemed look like they agreed with her, even Morningflower and Webfoot had come out from their den to listen.

She looked back to Onestar, almost overjoyed to see him look so lost and broken. “We must cast stones for all major decisions, it's what makes us WindClan.” She suddenly turned to face her Clanmates, not sure what had come over her, but she needed to speak to them. “We are a unique Clan! We are not like ThunderClan; Firestar only consults his senior warriors, deputy, and medicine cats. We are not like ShadowClan; Blackstar only speaks with Russetfur. We are not like RiverClan; Leopardstar barely even telling Mistyfoot what will happen.” It shocked Whitetail to see the sparks of energy in the Clan’s eyes, she couldn't stop herself as she continued on.

“We are WindClan, we live our lives the closest to StarClan, a place of unity. If we are to thrive, we must consult the Clan.” She paused, turning back to Onestar. “You must cast stones when making a decision.”

Satisfied with her words, she decided to leave camp, wanting to get the last word in. As she passed Tornear, he stopped her with a small grin. “Well spoken, some cat needed to say it.” Whitetail dipped her head to the senior warrior’s high praise, knowing he wasn't often kind.

She continued her way out of camp, listening as cats broke into social groups to speak of the meeting. Whitetail felt proud of what she had done, she hadn't regretted a single word. Maybe she could have said things better or reworded things, but it came from the heart, and maybe that's what Onestar needed to hear.

Whitetail didn’t wander too far out, straying a few tail lengths outside of the entrance of camp and sat down. She looked up at the twilight sky, half wondering if their ancestors agreed with her or if she would be judged harshly for her actions.

“Whitetail?”

She glanced over her should, letting out a sniff before turning back around. Why Onestar wanted to talk with her after what she said was surprising, but she had no more to say to the tom and she didn't care to listen to his plight.

The tabby sighed before sitting down beside Whitetail, keeping his distance as he gazed up at the near-dawn sky with her. “I've talked with Ashfoot, she has said she'll step down and retire. I want you to be my deputy, clearly the part of the Clan who hates me, well, they like you.”

Whitetail hid her shock as best she could, she was honoured but she wasn't sure if she wanted to be deputy. She didn't even know if she wanted to be leader one day.

“I refuse your offer.” She could see Onestar open his mouth from the corner of her eye, so she quickly continued. “Stones should be cast, those who wish to be deputy can get their chance. I will be there, but it will be the Clan’s choice if they want me as deputy.

“You, Ashfoot, and the medicine cats are not to cast stones, you four are influential cats and could sway the results. Those who wish to be deputy also cannot cast their stone.” Onestar nodded, lowering his head slightly.

“Anything else?” His voice was barely above a whisper, it almost satisfied Whitetail knowing she had won.

She looked over at him, narrowing her green eyes slightly. “I also request a council with StarClan once the choice is made; senior warriors, medicine cats, the chosen deputy, and yourself. The new deputy must gain StarClan’s blessing, if not, we start over.” Onestar nodded, returning his gaze to the sky.

“From now on, I promise I will always cast stones, for it is tradition.”

Whitetail didn't look over as she gave a brisk dip of her head. She knew, for better or for worse, that they must not stray from their traditions.

Tradition is what united WindClan, Whitetail only hoped it wouldn't break them apart as well.

Chapter Text

“You missed again, you worthless pile of fox dung!” Lionpaw felt his chest heave as Tigerclaw snarled at him, he had been training nonstop with the dead warrior for what seemed like endless moons, the large tabby not once going easy on him.

“I'm missing because when I wake up, Brackenfur trains me hard, and then when I try and sleep, you train me hard, I can't get any rest when you're both working me nonstop!” Lionpaw could feel his mental stability giving way, treating Tigerclaw like this was definitely the wrong move, but he was so mentally and physically exhausted that he really didn’t care. “It's been three moons since the battle with WindClan, Leafpool said leaf-bare will be over soon, and I've hardly done anything to help my Clan other than sleeping in a nest and drag my paws through simple tasks!” It was hard enough to get used to the change of leaf-bare, their days and nights shifting so they hunted and patrolled during the morning and slept huddled close at night, harder to adapt when he always felt tired.

Tigerclaw opened his mouth to speak but Lionpaw continued undeterred, noticing the annoyance in Tigerclaw’s amber eyes. “This morning I tried to catch a half frozen mouse! It was half dead and I missed it! Brackenfur told Firestar, and Berrypaw told me that he heard Brambleclaw say I might have to wait longer to be a warrior if this continues on!” Lionpaw stormed closer to the large tabby, not one part of him caring of the consequences of his actions. “At this rate, Foxkit and Icekit will be made warriors before me! Whitewing’s unborn kits will be warriors before me! And it'll be your fault!” He finally silenced himself as he needed to breathe, panting hard as he glared at his dreaming mentor.

Tigerclaw was quiet longer than Lionpaw liked, and he forced himself to be ready for an attack, but none came as the tom stood. “How about this; if you win a fight against my champion, prove what you've learned so far, we’ll figure out a new training plan—”

“If you think I'll ever make another deal—”

He received a hard hit to the top of his muzzle, Tigerclaw’s massive paw pinning his muzzle to the ground below them. “As I was saying,” their amber eyes met and Lionpaw made sure the dead tabby would feel the hate coming from his eyes. “If you lose, we’ll still change the plan, but you get no input.”

Lionpaw had no choice but to think it over as Tigerclaw didn't lift up his paw. His first instinct was to turn him down, wanting no more deals with his piece of mouse dung. But as he thought about it, he really couldn't lose this deal, there'd be less training either way. Win or lose, one option just had less input. Anything less than every night would be fantastic at this point.

Tigerclaw lifted his paw as Lionpaw came to this conclusion, but he didn't call him out as he sat up. He met the large tabby's gaze, eyes narrowed. “Fine, I accept, who’s your stupid 'champion’, it better not be you.”

Lionpaw’s rude remark seemingly went unnoticed as the tom turned behind them and signaled with his tail, Lionpaw only now noticing the sharp blue eyes peering out from the trees. “Hawkfrost, come here.”

At the call of the name, Lionpaw was standing as he began to backpedal away as a smaller dark brown tabby with white accents padded out, a horrible bloody gash in his neck.

Tigerclaw turned back to look at Lionpaw, the apprentice just able to see the slight smirk. “What's wrong, Lionpaw?” His tone was mocking, but Lionpaw had no more courage left to snap something back.

“I know about him, he’s evil.” Hawkfrost let out a short chuckle as he sat down beside Tigerclaw, the large tabby seeming to dwarf him but he sat up tall beside Lionpaw’s dream mentor.

“I'm no more evil than Brambleclaw, it's your father that killed me, driving that twoleg trap into my neck.” Hawkfrost looked down at his neck and Lionpaw swore he saw fresh blood drip down his fur onto the ground.

Tigerclaw stood as he gave a nod. “Your father is the one who got away with murder, Lionpaw, and on his own half-brother. Mothwing was devastated.” Lionpaw remained quiet, not knowing enough about Mothwing to agree or defend her. Next gathering, he decided quietly.

Lionpaw let out a tiny sigh before nodding. “Whatever, let’s just get this over wi—” he didn't get to finish his sentence as the small brown tabby jumped at him, bowling Lionpaw over.

He quickly jumped onto his paws, wrapping his tail around his leg instinctively as he and Hawkfrost began to circle around.

Lionpaw refused to make the first move, he was better at defense than offence, he was also easily twice as big as Hawkfrost and wanted to use that to his advantage.

It didn't take much longer for Hawkfrost to jump at him, Lionpaw easily dodging as he rolled away, springing up on his paws as Hawkfrost turned to claw at him. Lionpaw ducked and quickly raked his claws across the smaller tom’s nose, black looking blood spurting out. It threw Lionpaw off guard, he was used to seeing red blood when he managed to nick Tigerclaw, but he quickly shook it off as he ducked down to nip the tom's foreleg, Hawkfrost hissing as he bent down and tightly gripped onto Lionpaw’s scruff.

“You might be bigger,” he started through Lionpaw’s scruff, suddenly pulling the apprentice with him as he rolled and flung him a decent distance away. “But I know your tricks. Tigerstar was born and raised in ThunderClan, he wouldn't make this fight uneven.”

Lionpaw stayed lying down, shaken as he looked at Hawkfrost, the tom grinning. “Tigerstar?” His voice was just above a whisper as he turned and looked at Tigerclaw, barely holding in a cry as he stared at the broad tabby tom.

He suddenly had a deep gash that started at his chest and ended down near his tail, internal organs hanging out that Lionpaw couldn't even name. The intestines hung the lowest, dragging along the ground as blood seemed to never stop dripping from his gash, his ribs seemingly holding in everything else.

The sight was enough for Lionpaw to jolt awake, letting out a cry of fear as he stood and backed up, tripping over Berrypaw and landing on Honeypaw.

“Lionpaw!” He ignored the startled molly, all he could smell was the blood and all he could see was the malicious grin Tigerclaw—no, Tigerstar— gave him. And his insides being outside his body!

The thought had Lionpaw retching, his eyes unfocusing as poor Berrypaw received the splash back of the night's meal as it came up between the two nests.

He vaguely heard a voice say, “I'm getting Leafpool!” before he was forced to lie down in Honeypaw’s nest, his other denmates moving around him.

His eyes regained their focus as Leafpool’s face came up to his, deaf to her questions as he looked around the den. The other apprentices were now all awake, Honeypaw and Cinderpaw close beside him. Behind his aunt, he could see his mother at the mouth of the den, his father pacing behind her.

“Lionpaw!” He was roughly shaken by Leafpool, the relief in her eyes when he looked up at her had him almost apologizing. “What happened? What's wrong?”

He opened his mouth to answer, but he instead leaned forward as a second round of vomit came up, Leafpool moving away in time to miss being hit.

Leafpool’s gaze looked to each apprentice before looking back at Lionpaw. “Get him standing. Brambleclaw!” She turned sharply, the large tabby pushing his way in past Squirrelflight. “I need to get Lionpaw to my den, can you help?” He was quick to nod, Lionpaw wishing he hadn't caused such a scene.

With the added help of Cinderpaw and Honeypaw, the four cats moved Lionpaw to the medicine cat’s den. Leafpool was quick to begin checking Lionpaw, Squirrelflight was seated behind him as her bushy tail gently brushed his back. Brambleclaw was pacing in the small area of the den, managing to stay just out of the way so Leafpool wouldn't tell him to leave.

For what seemed like ages, he went in and out of sleep, thankful his dreams didn't stray any further than his own mind. He did not want to see Tigerstar or Hawkfrost again, even if that meant wearing himself out again.

As he was in and out of conscience, he recognized different scents of cats who had come and gone; Firestar and Sandstorm, Cloudtail, Honeypaw and Cinderpaw, Berrypaw and Poppypaw. He was sure his parents never left once, every time he woke up, they were both there, pacing or sleeping. Leafpool had also stayed with him, he was sure of that, he had even woken up to her asking to go to RiverClan to fetch Mothwing.

The moon now hung high in the sky, he barely recalled the moon had just been setting when he woke up from training. He let out a soft groan as he tried to sit up, Brambleclaw quickly moving closer as he gently pushed him back down. “Don't sit up, Leafpool isn't sure what’s wrong yet, she's waiting for Mothwing.” Lionpaw let out a hum, trying to wake up as he glanced around the den. “Just you and me, Squirrelflight and Leafpool went for a walk while they wait for Brightheart.” Lionpaw let out another hum, finally able to look at Brambleclaw fully.

He should have guessed it was his grandfather, Brambleclaw and Tigerstar looked so similar, but the kindness in Brambleclaw’s eyes was the first striking difference. They also had different eye colours, Sandstorm had told him that his father looked a lot like his mother; Goldenflower. Same face shape, big round yellow eyes, same nose and muzzle. The only thing the toms shared was their pelt colours.

After hearing that, he had wondered why Brambleclaw didn't have -flower as his warrior name. Normally it was for mollies, but even from the few stories he heard of the queen, they were very close. Lionpaw saw it as a curse to get -claw, especially after all the awful deeds Tigerstar committed.

“Why do you have darker fur around your front paws?” Lionpaw was pulled from his thoughts as he looked up at Brambleclaw, amber eyes looking down at his front paws before he tried to tuck them under himself, failing horribly as he gave a half shrug.

“Just how I was born, I guess.” Brambleclaw was already shaking his head as he moved closer, concern in his eyes.

“Have you… have you been training in the Place of No Stars?” His tone wasn't accusing, but Brambleclaw sounded worried as he kept his eyes on the dark bands.

Lionpaw let out a cough before he answered, his throat sore and just wanting to sleep again. “I don't know, but,” he paused to swallow, his eyes meeting his father’s.

“Who was with you?” The tabby tom's voice was barely above a whisper as he cut his son off, his worry become more evident as Lionpaw was able to pick up his fear scent.

“Tigerstar and Hawkfrost.” At the mention of his father and half brother, Brambleclaw stood and began to pace again, his fear scent getting stronger. “He tricked me, he said he was a StarClan warrior.”

Brambleclaw whipped around, Lionpaw had never seen him like this before. “I've told you of Tigerstar before! Longtail and Mousefur have told you stories! He's a nursery tale meant to keep kits from being bad!”

“He told me his name was Tigerclaw!” Brambleclaw fell silent as he sat back down again, the tabby tom looking older as he bowed his head.

He slowly looked to Lionpaw, gently lying down beside him. “He tricked me too." Lionpaw pricked his ears at that, looking over to his tired father. "Tawnypelt was too smart to accept his offer, I never saw Mothwing there.” This piqued Lionpaw’s interest as he stared at his father. “I was stupid when I was younger. Hawkfrost and I were growing closer, and with seeing Tigerstar, how he didn't seem to be power hungry anymore…” Brambleclaw gained a distant look in his eyes before giving his head a shake. “Tawnypelt tried to warn me, but I didn't listen, I felt alone and those two validated me. But when I saw Firestar in the twoleg trap, I couldn't let him die. Everything Tigerstar had said to me, every lesson he had taught, I pushed it aside.”

He looked back to Lionpaw, eyes soft. “My loyalty to ThunderClan, to Firestar, saved me from becoming Hawkfrost.” Brambleclaw looked down suddenly, Lionpaw following his gaze and almost choked as he let out a gasp. His father had similar darker fur around his front paws, but the dark cuff was broken in several places. “No cat can see it except if you go to the Place of No Stars, Squirrelflight could never see it and I could see it on Hawkfrost.”

Lionpaw sat up against his better judgement, quickly nuzzling his father as he let out a course purr. “I'm sorry, I should have never talked to him.”

Brambleclaw was quick to pull Lionpaw close, his purr growing louder than his son’s. “It's not your fault, Lionpaw. All you can do now is hold on, but I'll be with you every step of the way.” Lionpaw buried his muzzle deep into his father’s chest, snapping his eyes shut. He was both terrified and relieved Brambleclaw was there to help him through his living nightmare.

Chapter Text

It wasn't long before Leafpool and Squirrelflight returned, Brightheart and Mothwing with them. The golden tabby held a bundle of herbs in her maw, her eyes full of worry as she was lead into Leafpool’s den. “Brightheart gave me a small rundown of what happened, tell me what you've done so far.” Mothwing's voice wasn't demanding, but it was enough to catch Lionpaw off guard at her authority over his aunt.

Leafpool was quick to come up beside the RiverClan molly, flicking her tail dismissively to Brightheart as she sat down, Brightheart vanishing back into the clearing. “I'm going to be honest, he's only thrown up twice and has been in and out of sleep. He doesn't have a fever, no cuts or scratches, he says his throat is dry but I've been giving him plenty of water.”

Mothwing let out a hum as she crouched down in front of him, Lionpaw trying not to recoil from her strong fishy scent. “Has he been getting lots of sleep?” Her light amber eyes looked to each cat in the den, Brambleclaw first to speak up.

“He's been telling me he's been having nightmares lately, they keep him up most of the night.” Lionpaw didn't miss the look Squirrelflight gave him, her green eyes narrowed but she said nothing.

Please, he silently begged, don't lie to her.

Both medicine cats let out a hum this time, Leafpool turning to Mothwing first. “Maybe he's just over tired?” Mothwing nodded very slowly, beginning to do her own examination on the apprentice.

“Well, I did bring herbs anyways. We have a willow tree near camp,” awkwardly, Squirrelflight and Brambleclaw looked away from the molly as she spoke about the important locations of her herbs. “So I brought some willow leaves, good to stop vomiting, and chamomile to ease the mind, might want to try it out sooner rather than later.” Leafpool was already nodding as she took some of the chamomile from the bundle of herbs, setting it by Lionpaw’s maw.

He quickly ate it, not fond of the flavour but he wasn't a kit anymore, he didn't need to whine about the taste.

Mothwing gave a small nod before looking to Leafpool. “Did you want me to stay until tomorrow night to help?” Lionpaw blinked in confusion, it wasn't as if he had a life threatening sickness that warranted Mothwing to stay until tomorrow night.

He was just able to see the excitement in Leafpool’s eyes as she gave a nod. “Sure, I could use the help since I don't have an apprentice.” She turned to Squirrelflight, not waiting to see if she was listening or not. “Can you tell Firestar that Mothwing will be staying until tomorrow night?”

Squirrelflight blinked but nodded, sending one last look to Brambleclaw before padding off.

If he won't tell her, I will, Lionpaw decided silently.

Before either of the two toms could talk, Mothwing piped up once again. “How about I show you where to find chamomile, Leafpool?” The excited look was back as the brown tabby nodded, the two mollies leaving without so much as a 'goodbye’.

Lionpaw and Brambleclaw shared a look again before both shrugged, curling up. “Get some rest, I'll wake you up if I see you struggling.” Lionpaw nodded, yawning as Brambleclaw began to soothingly groom his fur, lulling the apprentice off to a dreamless sleep.

 

.:.

 

When Lionpaw awoke again, the moon was almost at its highest point in the sky. Looking around the den, he found the two medicine cats curled up tightly with one another, tails twined as they gently purred in their sleep. Brambleclaw was nowhere to be seen in the den, but with a quick peek outside, he could see his mother and father sleep in the mouth of the warriors’ den. He felt pity for them, knowing it would be coldest there and that their normal nest was in the middle of the den.

Without much thought or purpose, Lionpaw rose to his feet and quietly padded into the clearing. He wanted to do something but he wasn't sure what. I could go out into the forest for a little, he thought.

It didn't take him much more convincing as padded quietly out of camp, rolling his eyes at the sleeping Cloudtail. Some guard he is.

He let himself wander, letting his paws pull him where they wanted to go. Through the trees he padded, letting his mind wander as his paws followed suit. Every now and then, a creature would catch his attention, but he decided each time to let it go. His memory of seeing Tigerstar’s mutilated body kept him from having an appetite.

He came to a stop at the lake shore, his light amber eyes looking across the still water. The strong WindClan scent didn't escape his nose, but he hadn't crossed the stream into their territory.

He quietly sat down as he looked across the water, looking to the island lazily before his eyes drifted across to the main land on the other side. He thought leaf-bare to be cruel and ugly, but something about the serenity of the lake almost had him thinking otherwise.

Almost.

“Leave it to a ThunderClan cat to sit as possibly close to the border as he can.” Lionpaw sharply turned his head as he sprung to his paws, claws instinctively sliding out.

Across the stream padded the silver tabby, Jaypaw, an amused look on his face as he came to the river that marked the border. Without so much as stopping, he pushed into the water that barely lapped at his stomach, quickly reaching the other side.

Lionpaw stared at him in a stunned silence as he shook out his short fur, padding over to Lionpaw as he sat down fairly close. The golden tabby tom glanced around before sheathing his claws, sitting stiffly beside the blind tom.

“Are….are you always so rude?” He tried to keep his tone joking, remembering his first meeting with Jaypaw and how upset he was.

The silver tabby cracked a small grin as he looked over, blind blue eyes falling on Lionpaw’s face. He would've swore the smaller tabby could see if he didn't know he was blind.

“Only to cats who annoy me, so yes.” Lionpaw let out a short laugh, Jaypaw letting his smile fade as he looked out over the lake.

They sat in a surprisingly comfortable silence, the setting moon glaring harshly down on them. This leaf-bare had been cruel but no ThunderClan lives had been lost, but they weren't out of the woods yet. There was at least one half-moon worth of the cold snow before it would melt.

“Hollypaw and Breezepaw have tried to describe the lake to me,” Lionpaw looked to Jaypaw, a longing in the tabby’s eyes as he stared ahead. “It never bothered me much when I was younger, I didn't care about seeing. But now… I'm sure I'll never be a warrior, or I'll end up like Longtail, sentenced to the elders den for the rest of my life.” Jaypaw scowled as he looked down at his paws, his tail tip flicking.

Lionpaw was only quiet for a moment, thinking over his next words carefully. “Well, you have Onestar mentoring you, he must have thought of something to help your training.”

Jaypaw let out a small sigh, the tom seeming to shrink in on himself. “I overheard him talking with Ashfoot after we came back from hunting a few days ago, she said my kill was messy, that Breezepaw and Hollypaw were done with messy kills within a moon of training, if not sooner.” Lionpaw felt pity for the silver tom for the first time since he met him, it wasn't his fault he was blind. “Onestar said I couldn't hunt alone, that I can't tell distance, so he helps with hunting, he gets it mostly immobile while I finish it off. Ashfoot said I was a weakling and that Nightcloud should've…”

Jaypaw didn't need to finish his sentence for Lionpaw to understand. He knew that sometimes, in rare occasions, a queen would kill her weakest kit to end it's suffering, allow the wasted potential to be passed on to the stronger kits. Squirrelflight had said that the practice was forbidden in ThunderClan, all life being viewed as valid and precious, but the other Clans governed themselves, for better or for worse.

“Onestar tried to defend me, saying I was amazing on border patrols, but Ashfoot just kept telling him that I should be amazing in all my duties.” Jaypaw lowered his head further down, Lionpaw deciding to slide closer to comfort the tom.

Jaypaw was quick to gently rest his head on Lionpaw’s shoulder, blind eyes looking out over the lake again. “I'm scared I'll end up being a medicine cat, or that Onestar and Whitetail will banish me. Hollypaw said she wouldn't let that happen, but I know Crowfeather would.” Jaypaw’s eyes suddenly hardened as he mentioned his father, sitting up as his claws dug into the ground. “Crowfeather would rather see us die than try and protect us, he looks at us as if we were worthless, that we mean nothing to him. We're his legacy and he refuses to even look at us!”

Lionpaw’s pity grew, he didn't realize what Jaypaw had gone through until now. He certainly didn't forgive Jaypaw for lashing out towards him when they first met, but he saw where his anger stemmed from now. I'm glad Brambleclaw is my father and not Crowfeather.

“I couldn't imagine not being close to my father, Brambleclaw always said I was a blessing from StarClan.” As the words left his mouth, he instantly regretted them as he realized what he said.

He opened his mouth to apologize but Jaypaw spoke first. “I wish Brambleclaw was my father instead, then.” His voice was surprisingly soft, his edge and anger gone. “Sometimes I don't even feel like I'm truly Nightcloud and Crowfeather’s son, Harepaw said I don't have long legs and lean bodies like every other cat, and my pelt doesn't match my family’s.” Lionpaw looked out over the lake, realizing Jaypaw was right. The silver tabby stuck out from his family of black pelts. He was even smaller and stockier than a normal WindClan cat.

Jaypaw suddenly turned and looked up at Lionpaw, a gentle smile on his face as the conversation seemed to switch. “You know, for a Thunder cat, you're not half bad.”

Lionpaw couldn't help but smile himself as he laid down, Jaypaw joining him. “Yeah, you're not as terrible as I thought you were.” Jaypaw let out a laugh as he relaxed, a smirk on his face. He seemed glad that Lionpaw kept off the topic of his family roots.

“But you need to think before you speak, Lionpaw.”

The golden tabby let out a snort as he gently nudged the silver tabby. “Like you're one to talk.” Both toms let out laughs, Lionpaw feeling surprisingly close to Jaypaw. It was like he knew him from before, like a foggy memory.

He brushed the thought away as they stared out over the lake, another comfortable silence falling over them as Lionpaw determined he quite enjoyed Jaypaw’s company.

“I don't know where you stand,” Lionpaw started, breaking the silence as he caught Jaypaw’s attention. “But the battle, three moons ago—”

“—was a waste of time and energy, WindClan believes too strongly in StarClan. We do not speak for them and we shouldn't, I think Hollypaw finally gets that.” Lionpaw gave a small nod, hopeful the black molly wouldn't be so hostile at the next gathering. “We need to be more open like you or ShadowClan, our current ideals will get us killed, or worse. I’m glad we cast stones, Ashfoot being voted out for Whitetail, but when you have enough cats against a leader, they will take drastic measures to insure survival.”

Lionpaw froze, not every WindClan cat agreed with the attack? Clearly Jaypaw didn't, but he wasn't like a normal WindClan cat. “I hope that it doesn't come to that.” He murmured, Jaypaw nodding in agreement.

“Me too.”

Chapter Text

Jaypaw quietly padded towards home, feeling refreshed after talking to Lionpaw. The ripples and drama caused by their change in deputy had made Onestar feel vulnerable. Whitetail had done everything to ease herself into her new position, but Onestar was quick to remind her of what she had been doing wrong or how she didn’t know her Clanmates like Ashfoot did. It was clear Onestar regretted casting stones, but Jaypaw thought it good to have clashing ideals forced to work together.

He was also grateful Whitetail had defended him against his grandmother, agreeing with Onestar when Ashfoot had said one too many things not in Jaypaw’s favour. Other than his family (excluding Crowfeather, of course), Onestar and Whitetail seemed to be his biggest supporters. Of course the rest of the Clan cared for him, but he could tell they thought of him as another Longtail.

“My, does your mind ever wander.” His head shot up, ears pricked. From his sightless vision, a black and white tom appeared, his body tall and lean. Star danced in his pelt, amber eyes kind as his long tail curled around his paws.

Despite being able to see the tom, he was still blind to the rest of the world.

Jaypaw let out a huff at the tom, sitting down. “What? Am I not allowed to be angry that my Clanmates hate me?” The black and white tom opened his mouth to speak, but Jaypaw continued. “But you’ve never felt that, have you, Tallstar? No cat has ever hated you.”

Tallstar flicked his tail before standing, padding soundlessly towards the apprentice, sitting beside him as he wrapped his tail around Jaypaw. “I know you are hurting, and despite what you believe, I have felt the same thing.” Jaypaw’s eyes darted up to the old leader, nothing but kindness in Tallstar’s eyes as he gave a soft smile. “They will one day understand, but only if you give them time to. No cat will change their mind over night, even if they know they’re hurting their Clanmate.” Jaypaw let out a sigh as he closed his eyes, slouching slightly.

“I just wish I was normal.” The sudden chill made Jaypaw snap his eyes open, unable to see Tallstar or feel his presence.

You were not meant to be normal, you were meant to be extraordinary. The words were breathed into his ears, the small tom almost wanting to let out a wail. He didn’t want to lead a life different than his Clanmates! He longed to see the lake, to see the dangers without having to be alerted to them, to dream without entering another’s!

He just wanted to be normal!

Tears pricked the corners of his eyes as he stood, racing off towards the moonpool. The safety and comfort his ancestors brought him was enough for him to always go running back, not caring if he kept proving Tallstar right or not. So what if he was supposed to be something ‘extraordinary’? Couldn’t he remain blissfully unaware for a few moons longer?

The ground sharply changing to stones alerted Jaypaw to his arrival, his mind building the terrain around him as he slowed to a brisk walk. He had heard Barkface complain to Kestrepaw about slipping on ice and hurting his bad hip, so Jaypaw took extra caution as he slowly made his way to the mouth of the cave through the lightly snowed path, fur prickling as the fresh smell of the pool filled his senses.

The sand greeted his paws with a chill, Jaypaw almost able to feel StarClan themselves rush into the cave as his paws slipped into other pawprints. He paused as he came to the water’s edge, a brief thought of being caught crossed his mind before he crouched down and pressed his nose to the chilled water.

His eyes slid shut, and when he opened them again, he was surprised to not see the purple hues of StarClan. The land was dark and bleak, tall decaying trees stood in every open patch of land. Jaypaw’s eyes darted up, looking for any sign of the moon, only to find heavy dark clouds that were tinged red and blocking out the sky.

“Hello, Jaypaw.” He whipped around, seeing a calico she-cat with amber eyes. The molly’s fur was unkempt, thought he wasn’t sure she’d even be able to groom herself with how thick her pelt looked.

“Who are you?” He stood tall as he stared at her, unable to recalling seeing the battle scarred molly before.

She just smiled as she sat down, fluffy tail twitching. “My name does not matter,” Jaypaw let out a snort, but the molly continued unfazed. “What matters is that Onestar is letting you fall behind in your training.” Jaypaw pricked his ears at that, he knew Onestar was trying his best, but he hadn’t thought he had fallen too far behind.

“And how did you come to that conclusion?” He asked, struggling to keep his voice even as he stared at her with distrust.

The calico’s eyes seemed to glow as she grinned wider, lying down as she crossed a paw over the other. “Jaypaw, don’t play dumb with me, I know you’ve felt the way your Clanmates look at you. You know how Ashfoot feels about your blindness, and Onestar is a fool who still dotes on his former deputy.” Jaypaw felt his stomach churn, not sure what the she-cat was getting at. “He’s letting you fall behind, he doesn’t want you to become a warrior with your siblings. Even your own mother still treats you like a kit, and your father,” Jaypaw felt his blood boil as she spoke of Crowfeather, “my, he has disowned you entirely. At least he still looks at Hollypaw and Breezepaw, but he seems to act as if you don’t exist.”

Anger, bliss, sorrow, pain, happiness, suffering, grief, everything came crashing over Jaypaw. She was right, he would have been a fool not to use his powers to probe at Crowfeather’s mind, souring even more when he did catch thoughts of his siblings but not himself.

“But,” her voice brought Jaypaw’s attention back, leaning in as she seemed to lower her voice ever so slightly. “I can help you, force Crowfeather to acknowledge you. I can help you rise above Hollypaw and Breezepaw, I can be your eyes.” The fur along his spine bristled slightly, he wasn’t sure if it was from excitement or fear. “All you have to do is promise me something.”

Jaypaw leaned in slightly, unable to look away. “Anything.” He breathed out, the calico giving him a small smile as she rose to her paws.

“You must promise me that you will be loyal to your Clan above everything else. What you want for yourself is nothing compared to what the Clan needs from you.” Jaypaw opened his mouth to answer, to accept her offer on the spot, but the mysterious molly continued on. “This is not a promise to be kept lightly, Jaypaw, I will return to you in a moon for your answer.”

When he blinked, he found himself where he should have been in the first place; in the middle of the purple hued hunting grounds of StarClan. He swiftly looked around for the molly, desperate to make the promise, but all he could see were the semitransparent StarClan cats enjoying the afterlife with the stars blanketing their pelts.

Jaypaw sighed heavily as he sat down, his head lowering slightly. He didn’t understand how he could misinterpret the promise, or why she was letting him dwell on it, but he already made up his mind.

He wanted to see.

“Back again, Jaypaw?” He turned, finding Tallstar with a brown and grey dappled tom at his side. The tom didn’t seem to have a WindClan build, he was a shorter and more stocky build akin to that of a ThunderClan cat, but he carried the familiar WindClan scent. His yellow eyes watched Jaypaw with interest, but he kept his own blue eyes on Tallstar.

“I only come here because all of you seem to think I belong here.” The dappled tom let out a snort, Tallstar’s tail curling in amusement.

“Keep coming to StarClan and I might have to send Barkface a sign.” Tallstar's tone was teasing but Jaypaw felt a wave of worry.

The other tom let out a small laugh as he spoke up, his voice chilling Jaypaw. “Let him get warrior training first, making a blind cat a medicine cat without battle experience would be cruel.”

Tallstar rolled his eyes as he gently bumped the dappled tom. “Don’t mind Hawkheart, he thinks every medicine cat should be a warrior first.” Hawkheart shrugged, looking to Tallstar with a smirk on his face.

“That poor ThunderClan molly would’ve lived a longer life if she knew how to fight.”

“You will not speak of Spottedleaf like that,” Tallstar snapped suddenly, Jaypaw feeling confused with all this new information. “Risking her life for her Clan was the ultimate sacrifice any cat, warrior or not, could make.” Hawkheart rolled his eyes, but Jaypaw was surprised to feel spikes of grief come from the tom.

Without meaning to, he reached out his mind to Hawkheart’s, a pretty silver tabby flashing in his mind with her throat ripped open. He was suddenly shot out of Hawkheart’s head with great force as thick walls of brambles inclosed his mind, glancing to the tom as he let out a growl. “Do that again, I dare you, and I’ll make sure you never become a warrior.” Jaypaw took half a step back, Tallstar quick to move between the two toms.

“Easy, Hawkheart.” The brown and grey tom looked away as he lowered his head, Jaypaw feeling the slight grief again, actively making sure not to prod his mind further.

All three toms fell silent, Jaypaw letting out a sigh before he sat up tall and looked to both toms for their wisdom. “Why can I do that? Why can I enter dreams and feel emotions?”

Tallstar and Hawkheart shared a look, the former looking embarrassed as he looked back to the apprentice. “We don’t know, we didn’t give you this blessing.” Hawkheart let out a small snort as his eyes glanced over to Jaypaw.

“Are you sure it isn’t a curse?”

Tallstar ignored Hawkheart’s comment as he continued. “I’ve talked with the other cats here, none claiming ownership to the power.” Tallstar opened and closed his mouth a couple times, looking nervous as he glanced to Hawkheart before looking back to Jaypaw. “The power isn’t our energy, it’s…” he paused, “it’s old, ancient even. It is not a blessing from StarClan, but from someone, or somewhere, else.”

Jaypaw remained silent as he rolled Tallstar’s words around in his mind, desperate to find any connection. “Does any other cat have the same power? Being able to walk in another’s dream?” All he received from both toms were shaken heads, Tallstar looking beside himself as Hawkheart sent a brief look of pity.

Before any more could be said, a moment of horror descended upon Jaypaw as the soft purple hues of StarClan dissipated, Tallstar and Hawkheart slowly blowing away like dust from their heads down until he was left alone in a cold, barren cave.

In the centre of the cave sat a large puddle, smaller puddles dotting around the cave in various spots. Behind the large puddle sat a hunched figure, fear filling Jaypaw as a moonbeam found its way in from the roof of the cave and cascaded down into the puddle as it illuminated the cave.

“Jay’s Wing, we have waited for you to come.” His eyes shot to the figure now illuminated by the moon, her white pelt seeming to glow as her green eyes held no pupil to look at him with. The only discernible feature of her white pelt was the half circle on her chest, grey in contrast to her white fur.

“T-that’s not my—”

He fell silent as her eyes began to glow white, rising to her paws as her voice thundered around the small cave, the stalactites shaking and threatening to fall. “There will be three,” she started, her voice melding with other pitches and tones that made Jaypaw crouch down and bristle in fear. “Kin of your kin, who will hold the power of the stars in their paws.”

Jaypaw’s mind reeled as the image sharply vanished before him, her thunderous words echoing around in his head. He looked around, desperate to find where he was now, finding only darkness, before using his other senses as he determined he was at the moonpool once again.

Knowing he was safe, he sat up and he let out a ragged breath, feeling as if he had filled his mind with too much information to process. His mind first shot to the calico’s words, of her training and eyesight in return for him to hold loyalty to his Clan. Easy enough, that part of the night having a clear answer and solution. Of course he would take the deal, so he shoved that part of the night to the back of his mind.

Next, Tallstar and Hawkheart’s uneasiness and lack of knowing why Jaypaw had his powers. He assumed all of StarClan had know of his powers, using them as a cruel trick to force him to be a medicine cat. But it seemed that whoever gave him these powers, they had been outside of StarClan’s hunting grounds. He briefly thought of the calico he met, wondering if she was ancient like his power, but figured she wasn’t. He didn’t know why, but she didn’t feel right to be as old as the cats who had supposedly given him the powers.

Finally, the white molly with green eyes. Jaypaw forced himself to lie down as his head began to spin, not sure how to even address what she had said. Halfheartedly, he let out a dry laugh, of course his power would lead him to two strange cats, one of which promised him vision while the other spoke in tongues.

His mind shot back to the words the white molly had said, still ringing in his ears. There will be three, kin of your kin, who will hold the power of the stars in their paws.

“‘Kin of your kin’…” He mumbled out, eyes narrowing in confusion.

Clearly, he was one of these three to hold powers, he didn't believe she was speaking about him having kin of kin. More rather, he gave a quick thought of his family, leading him to believe it was supposed to be spoken to his only living grandparent; Ashfoot. Jaypaw was her kin of kin, but he didn't know why his grandmother had kept this a secret as it seemed to be fairly important. He brushed it off as an old cat scared to speak out against their precious StarClan.

Jaypaw let out a huff as he stood, feeling as if he had cleared his mind enough to walk. Suddenly, it hit Jaypaw like a ton of rocks; ‘there will be three’, Hollypaw and Breezepaw must also have powers. He wasn’t alone after all! They had powers of their own, meaning it was only a matter of time before they discovered theirs too!

With his new revelation, he turned and tore out of the moonpool with excitement, blind to the hairless bicoloured tom and the pure white molly with a grey half circle on her chest, both of which had seated themselves across the pool from him and had watched him with sightless eyes.