"How do you feel?"
"You seem so happy though."
"That's because it's easier to smile when you start hurting"
Midnightpaw felt unloved, so she hid herself away. Trying to be pretty, she wasted her life, hoping for someone to care about her. But with nobody on her side, Midnightpaw began to wither away, with nothing else left for her. With her past haunting her, and her future uncertain, the young she-cat felt unable to do anything right at all...
She was there
She was trying
She was dying
The black and white she-cat looked for her sister, desperate to find her in the fire. The nest they had lived in was burning to the ground, and Coral was trapped somewhere in the crumbling rubble.
"Coral!" Came Midnight's cries. But no answers came from her sister. She could feel the nest crashes down around her, and the ash getting inside her lungs. But she pushed herself further into the wreckage, ignoring the soot that was pulling inside her.
"Help me.." The whisper came from even deeper in the fire, and Midnight knew her sister was still there. She wasn't about to give up on Coral.
Then the branches crashed behind Midnight. She was trapped. With no choice left, she shifted the rocks, and delved inside the moss coated cavern. "Coral!" Midnight yelled. The cries became fainter, and fainter, until there were no more cries at all.
Midnight kept pushing, and at the bottom of the burning fire, she found her sister's once beautiful white pelt, blackened by soot and ash.
"No..." She whispered. "No..." She collapsed next to her sister. "This is all my fault..." She could hear the rain outside starting to put out the fire, but it was too late. Coral was dead, and Midnight felt like a piece of her was dead too.
"Coral..." She croaked, before the embers singed her face.
Moons later, and miles away, Midnightpaw woke with a start, the nightmare of many moons ago still fresh in her young mind.
"Oh Coral..." She murmured, her eyes weak. "Could I have saved you?"
The other apprentices stirred, but none of them woke. Midnightpaw sat alone, her blue eyes glowing with tears. "Coral, what have I done?"
Despite her struggle
Despite her choice
To lose her voice
I took a swipe at the golden tom. He ducked out of the way just in time, and rolled over on his belly. "You'll have to do better than that, Midnightkit."
I growled. With a leap, I landed right on top, and raked my paws down his belly. He struggled, but could not move. "Ow! Okay! I'm sorry!"
I got off him, and he struggled to his paws. "Good one. I'm glad I'll never have to fight you in battle!"
I shrugged. "You'll do just fine Tigerpaw." I mewed.
Lilyshade nodded her head. "Alright you two, that's enough for now. Let Petalpaw and Firefly try."
I watched as young Petalpaw stepped up to my sister. Firefly was larger and stronger, but also less skilled. Petalpaw was swift, and could out-smart anyone. She reminded me of Coral in a way. But I shook my fur out. A training session was not the time to get emotional.
Firefly eventually won the fight, but only due to her large size. Petalpaw flicked her tail, but said nothing. I knew the white she-cat hated to be beat.
With a pang, I could see the Firefly saw our sister in Petalpaw too. But in looks only, as Coral was sweet and gentle, while Petalpaw was hot-headed, and snarky. Petalpaw was also the most popular apprentice in the Clan. I envied her, only because she had several friends, and I only had Firefly at the best of times.
"Good work, all of you. Let's head back to camp, and I'll speak to Ridgestar about your performances." Mewed Lilyshade.
The four of us headed back to camp, with Petalpaw flirting with Tigerpaw, while Firefly and I hung to the back, still feeling a little lost. At least Firefly had Flaresky and Flowerpaw to talk to. I spent all my spare time alone.
Lilyshade stepped into the Leader's Den as we reached camp. Tigerpaw scampered off to his friends, while Firefly and Petalpaw walked off looking more dignified. Not knowing what else to do, I sat alone in the dark corners of the camp.
The sun began to set, and I curled up in my corner. Going back to the den would mean Petalpaw making fun of me, and her little pack laughing at me. So I figured that the cold corner was better.
The orange light turned gray, and then black, as the moon rose higher and higher into the sky. I could feel it geting colder, but I didn't want to move. Besides, my thick fur helped me keep warm. It was the only trait I inherited from my mother, Swish.
Slowly I fell asleep, thinking about my family, and how much I missed them.
When I woke in the morning, I could hear whispers around me. I opened my eyes, and spotted the other apprentices nearby. They weren't looking at me, luckily, and I scrambled out of the corner to where everyone was standing.
Firefly glared at me for being late, and I just tried to blend into the ground. It turned out that Ravenfall's kits had been born. I cooed as them like any other cat would, but said nothing else. I didn't even bother to learn their names.
After we got over the kit excitment, Lilyshade announced a hunting assessment for the apprentices. All of them were welcome, even if they were too young to be warriors.
Eventually, Flowerpaw, Silverpaw, Petalpaw, Tigerpaw, Hawkpaw, Molepaw, Firefly, and myself got lined up, and stood ready to go. Larkpaw and Daisypaw stayed behind, with Larkpaw a little injured from yesterday's training session, and Daisypaw fast asleep.
We ended up randomly paired with each other, myself with Hawkpaw, one of Tigerpaw's friends. When I had first come to BreezeClan, I had sort of liked Hawkpaw, but after coming to terms with reality, I pushed that dream behind me.
He was still very nice to me, and I felt grateful for that. We weren't friends, but I knew he didn't hate me, unlike Petalpaw, Silverpaw, and Daisypaw.
"Let's head into the forest." He mewed. "I really want to catch a squirrel."
I nodded, and followed him. When we reacher the furthest part of the forest, we split up, looking for prey. I managed to catch a vole, and a sparrow, then started to head back. As I returned, I saw Hawkpaw coming back. "I found these cool ruins. Do you want to see them?"
I shrugged, and padded after him. The forest over here began to grow thinner, and the pine trees almost stopping growing. Instead, leafy trees hung above us.
The two of us stopped in a clearing, and with a pang, I recognized my old, burned home. "No..." I whispered. "Coral..."
Hawkpaw glanced at me. "You okay Midnightpaw? You look sad."
I gulped. "This is where I lived, before it... burned."
He froze. "I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have brought you here. I'm such a fool."
It's okay, you didn't know." I mewed. "Besides, I needed to come back eventually. And I... wanted to check something."
I padded over to the once smouldering wood. It was scorched with fire, I shifted the blackened wood. Without fire and smoke to stop me, I got into the deepest part of the burned nest. The moss still grew, slightly singed at the end. At the bottom of the hole, there was a bit of white fur, but no body. Had Firefly come back to bury Coral?
The thought puzzled me, and I pulled myself out. Hawkpaw waited for me. "Find what you were looking for?" I shook my head. "The body is... gone. I think Firefly might have come back to bury her. She would have."
Hawkpaw nodded, as if he understood. "Let's head back. Maybe we can catch something else."
I followed the brown dappled tom, my thoughts still on Coral's missing body. Something felt wrong, I was determined to find out what.
What am I missing?
Breathing was hard
She became pained
She was mentally maimed
I curled into my nest that night, tired from the hunting trip. As I lay down, I could hear Petalpaw's snarky voice pipe up. I tried to tune her about, but the words kept coming back around.
"Look at her pelt, has she ever groomed it?"
"I'm suprised she hasn't realized how ugly she is."
"She thinks she's so smart too, but she's a complete idiot."
"Why doesn't she just leave? She doesn't have any friends. She's just a freak rouge kit."
I was about to cry, when I heard someone else speak. "Leave her alone Petalpaw. Everyone else too. She never did anything to you."
I looked up, and saw Tigerpaw growling at the she-cats. "You heard me. You've never picked on Firefly like that, so I don't see why you should pick on Midnightpaw."
Silverpaw rolled her eyes. "Midnightpaw's a freak. You should figure that out."
Daisypaw nodded. "Like, have you looked at her? At least Firefly isn't ugly! Or a total moron."
Petalpaw just sniffed. "We don't have to justify ourselves to you." But the three of them shut up, and went to sleep.
In the dark, I blinked a thank you to the golden tom. He just shrugged as if to say, It was no big deal. It felt good to me though. His face remained in my mind throughout the night. Maybe I do have more friends here than I thought.
When morning came, I found myself outside, grooming my pelt. I didn't know why I suddenly felt compelled to. I guess Petalpaw's comments about it from last night were getting to me.
Applewhisker set out the dawn patrol, and I watched as Petalpaw was dragged on it. She looked angry, and I stifled a laugh. Swish wouldn't have wanted me to do that.
I whipped around, and saw Flowerpaw sitting there. The calico tabby licked her paws. "Sorry to startle you. I heard what Petalpaw said about you. She's actually just really jealous of the fact that Tigerpaw has a crush on you. That's the only reason she hates you."
I froze. What?
Flowerpaw shrugged. "I dunno. I just thought I should tell you. See you around." Then she turned tail and left.
I wasn't sure really what I was going to do. He likes me? I thought about it, and I realized that his playful teasing was a little sweet, and I remembered that he'd stuck up for me last night, when nobody else did. The idea became a little less odd. Then I shook my fur. He's just a friend. I can't think about anyone like this.
Luckily, Firefly appeared behind me. "Want to go hunting with Flaresky and me? We're going to Warmstones."
I nodded, jumping at the chance to get out of my head. Flaresky was a pretty ginger and white she-cat. She was nice, but firey, and I could see why my sister liked her. They had perfect harmony. The two of them joked the whole way there, while I was quiet. Even though Firefly was still technically an apprentice, Flaresky treated her like a warrior.
The two of them headed off in one direction, while I went in the other. The river was calm, and I stared into it, my reflection glistening in the ripples.
I could see why Petalpaw called me ugly. I was nowhere near as sleek and shiny as she and her friends were. They probably spent a long time on their pelts. I hardly bothered to get the snarls out of my fur some mornings.
Before I could drift off, a fish jumped out of the water, and I took the moment to kill it, before it got away. It was a rather large fish, and I dragged it back to my sister and Flaresky with pride.
"Nice kill!" Flaresky mewed, warmth in her eyes. "And it looks delicious. I'm sure the elders will love it."
I felt myself standing taller. We headed back to camp, and I plopped my catch on the fresh-kill pile. I could see Ridgestar nodded with approval, a ways away. He mewed to Applewhisker, "She's making a fine BreezeClan cat. I knew taking them in was a good idea."
Applewhisker nodded, and the two of them looked pleased. For the first time, I ate with Flowerpaw and Larkpaw, and I talked to them a bit. They were actually really sweet. Flowerpaw even promised to help me groom my pelt tomorrow. She said if I worked hard, I might be able to stop Petalpaw and Co. from picking on me.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Petalpaw flirting with Tigerpaw. He wasn't reacting at all to her. Instead, he was looking at me. I dropped my gaze, and felt my pelt burn, from shame, and from Petalpaw's glares.
"For starters," mewed Larkpaw, "Don't encourage him. Speak to him only when you have to, and don't try to avoid him. He's nice, but we don't want Petalpaw hurting you."
I nodded, and looked at the other apprentices. For the first time since the fire, I felt like I belonged with BreezeClan. I felt like I was home.
It was painful
Watching them die
She hurt so much
But she didn't cry
Firefly looked around the nest. It was too quiet for that time of night. Not even the nightlife seemed to stir. Nervously, the ginger she-cat stood up, and brushed past her sisters.
The outside air was oddly warm for the time of night they were in. She stepped towards the edge of the nest, and poked her nose outside. Her nose prickled at an odd scent, and she looked around, trying to find the source.
When she saw it, her eyes widended. The moor was on fire.
Rushing back inside the nest, she woke Coral and Midnight. "Wake up." She mewed urgently. "The moor caught fire. We need to get out of here now!"
Midnight shot up, and Coral heaved herself to her paws. The fire was spreading to the den, and repeatedly, they had to stop for fear of their fur catching on fire. Firefly pulled ahead, towards the old maple tree. Her only thoughts were focused on saving Midnight and Coral. Now that Swish and Link were gone, she was left as their only caretaker.
They reached the tree, and Firefly turned around. Instantly she froze. "Where's Coral?" She mewed, fear creeping into her tone.
Midnight looked back at the burning den, fully ablaze now, and cried, "She must have gotten stuck in there! We have to save her!"
Firefly paled, "What if she doesn't make it?" Her words were not heard by Midnight, as the black and white she-cat was already running back towards the fire.
"No!" She shrieked. "Midnight, come back!" But the young she-cat didn't turn back, as she hurled herslef in to find her sister.
Behind her, she heard a mew. Fall stood, a worried look on her face. She was leaning against her brother, Dusty. Fall mewed weakly, "My kits are coming. I don't know if they'll be okay here."
Firefly looked back at the nest, then nodded. "Okay. Come on Dusty." But she felt guilt piling up in her stomach. First for not going after Coral, and now for leaving both her siblings behind. Still, she ran after Fall and Dusty, trying to ignore the pang in her heart.
Firefly jolted awake, and looked around. Where are Coral and Midnight? Then last night's events hit her. Fall and Dusty were still asleep, Coraline and Jeff asleep at their paws.
The fire seemed to be gone, and the wet grass around her confirmed that it had rained. Before she could think about what she would find, the ginger she-cat raced towards her burned home. Some of the wood was still intact, but it was all blackened, and ash was everywhere she stepped.
Fearful of what she would see, Firefly took a deep breath, and plunged into the nest. This time, there was no fire, so she had no fear of being trapped. The burned wood shifted easily, and she delved into the once beautiful home.
At first, Firefly found nothing. Had her sisters escaped? Was her worrying in vain? But just in case, she kept going, her guilt guiding her more than her bravery.
Finally, she reached the rocky entrance, and saw the slightly singed moss. This was the deepest part of the den, and if there was anyone here, it would make sense why they sheltered here.
Carefully, she stepped to the bottom, her paws slipping on the damp rock. When she regained her footing on the dirt, she cried out in pain.
There at the bottom lay Midnight and Coral, stone-cold and still.
"No..." Firefly whispered, her voice weak and cracking. "No... they can't be..."
She looked at them, tears falling out of her eyes, but neither of them moved. It finally dawned on Firefly that they were dead, and she would have to bury them. I'm all alone now. She thought, and it wrenched her heart. This is all my fault.
She leaned down to pick them up, when she felt one of them move in her jaws. Right away, she spit them out, and Midnight got to her paws, her breathing coming back to normal.
"Coral! Firefly! Fire!" She yelled, still disoriented from the fall. Then she calmed down, and looked around. "Firefly? What happened?"
The ginger she-cat mewed grimly, "The fire was bad. Dusty and Fall got away, and I went with them. I left you, and I am so sorry." She leaned down, and nudged Coral. "Come on Coral. Wake up. It's okay now." But Coral remained cold, and didn't stir, even when Midnight tried to help her up.
"It's no use." Midnight croaked. "She's not breathing."
"No!" Shrieked Firefly. "She can't be dead! No! This is all my fault! If I had run after you, she might have been okay!" Firefly broke down, and curled into a ball, shuddering.
Midnight put a paw on her shoulder. "We'll be okay. We still have each other. What are we going to do now?"
Firefly sighed. "We go with Fall and Dusty... and become kittypets."
Midnight crunched her face. "We can't do that! We promised Swish we'd live good lives. Coral wouldn't want us to do that! She'd tell us to keep fighting!"
Firefly sniffed. "Then what do we do?" She had suddenly become the helpless kit, unable to do anything for herself. Coral's death had caused her mind to start breaking down.
"We could always join BreezeClan." Midnight mewed.
Firefly nodded. "Okay." Her voice was soft. The two of them left the den, Midnight with physical wounds, and Firefly with mental ones.
Neither of them looked back.
"Firefly? You okay? You look like you went to your own little world."
Firefly whipped around, and spotted Flaresky. The white she-cat looked concered. "Something happen?"
The ginger she-cat shook her head. "Nothing important. Let's go."
As they walked back, Firefly could see Midnightpaw talking to a few of the other apprentices. She purred at the fact that her sister had made some friends. She had started to worry about her.
Firefly knew that some of the others teased her, and couldn't figure out why. She didn't trust herself to speak. After Coral's death, anything she said could trigger her insanity.
She changed herself
To be like them
At their demand
I sat with Larkpaw and Flowerpaw that night. We chatted a bit, and then went to sleep. It was the first time in ages that Petalpaw hadn't spent forever making fun of me.
I liked having them around. Flowerpaw was great at making me laugh, and Larkpaw was always giving me encouragment. I couldn't believe I'd spent without them.
It was the dead of night, when I got a poke in the back of my head. Standing up wearily, I saw Larkpaw standing over me. "Wake up."
I yawned and rolled over. "Now? It's the middle of the night!"
Larkpaw's eyes narrowed. "It's important. Hawkpaw and Tigerpaw just left, and they looked angry. We're going to follow them."
Right away, I grinned, and got up, before my judgement could get ahead of me. Led by Flowerpaw, we followed the toms a safe distance away. They stopped in the Pine Copse, and we hid in a bush, watching in silence.
"Alright, what is it?" Hawkpaw mewed, yawning. "It's the middle of the night, and I'm on Dawn Patrol. This better be important."
Tigerpaw answered by swiping at Hawkpaw, his claws out. Hawkpaw ducked back just in time to avoid losing his whiskers. "What in the name of StarClan was that for?"
Tigerpaw snarled. "You brought this upon yourself! You keep looking at Midnightpaw!"
Hawkpaw looked at him as if he was crazy. "What are you talking about? You don't even-" He was cut off as Tigerpaw delivered a blow to his jaw.
"I love Midnightpaw. I will not allow you to take her away from me!" Tigerpaw screeched. He jumped on top of his friend, clawing his fur off.
"No..." Larkpaw whispered, her face pale. "I never thought I'd see the day..."
Flowerpaw couldn't say anything, still horrified as she watched her brother get slaughtered. Finally, I'd had enough. Just as Tigerpaw attempted a killing blow, I leaped out of the bushes, and pounced on the golden tom, eyes flaring. Tigerpaw struggled, but couldn't move.
I turned my head to look at Hawkpaw. "Run!" I shrieked. Hawkpaw didn't ask twice, and started running as fast as he could, Larkpaw and Flowerpaw close behind. When I assumed them to be a safe distance away, I let Tigerpaw up.
He spluttered a bit, and then looked at me. "What- Midnightpaw?" He paled. "How-how much did you see?"
I snarled. "All of it. You nearly killed him!"
Tigerpaw stepped back. "I love you Midnightpaw. He wanted to take you away from me! He'd never even be there for you! I would protect you forever!"
Unable to think of anything to say, I stood there, trying to sort out my thoughts. "Tigerpaw, killing him would not have been the answer. If he was dead, did you really think I'd love you?"
Shame crept onto his face, and the golden tom ran off. I fell asleep there in the copse, Hawkpaw's blood still soaking into the grass.
I shot up, and for a moment, I forgot where I was. Then last night's events came crashing down on me. Focusing myself on reality, I faced Firefly, her face full of horror. "There was blood." She whispered. "Blood everywhere. I-I thought you were dead..."
I looked at my pelt, and realized it had gotten sticky. Hawkpaw's blood must have spread in my sleep. "Firefly, I'm okay, really. It's not my blood, I swear."
Firefly let out a sigh of relief. "Go wash off in the river then. When you're done, hurry back to camp. Petalpaw is looking for you." Then she scampered off.
I gulped. What did Petalpaw want? She was probably angry over what I did to Tigerpaw. It wasn't my fault. He was going to murder Hawkpaw.
I figured that she would never speak to me if I was still coated in blood. I headed down the hill to Warmstones, and quickly bathed in the river. Then I licked my pelt dry.
I spotted a flower in the ground, and before I could change my mind, picked it, and wreathed it around my ear. I cursed myself for such vanity, but shook the thoughts away before that invaded me forever.
I stepped into camp, and spotted Petalpaw, flicking her tail impatiently. Trying to look like more than a rouge, I stalked towards her, keeping my tail and nose high.
She sniffed at me, but her eyes looked oddly pleased. "I see you got my message. Now, I know I've teased you in the past, but I think we should put that behind us." Teased doesn't even begin to cover it. I thought.
Petalpaw continued, clearly not caring what I thought. "But I heard Larkpaw and Flowerpaw talking about last night, and clearly, I saw Hawkpaw's injury. The way you saved him. I think, that with a little work, you can become like us."
Why in the name of StarClan would I want to be like YOU?
"Silverpaw, Daisypaw, and I believe that if you work with us, you can become beautiful, and popular. Everyone will like you. Including Hawkpaw..." She whispered, green eyes dancing. I gulped. Hawkpaw is nice and all... and I'm not about to go falling over Tigerpaw...
"Okay. I'll do it." I mewed, trying not to let the doubt in my voice show.
Petalpaw's eyes glinted. "Excellent."
And in the moment, I knew I'd made a deal with the devil.
"So first, we're giving you a list of cats you can't talk to anymore." Silverpaw mews. "Larkpaw and Flowerpaw are a no-go now. We're your friends now."
I gulped. "But-but they-"
Petalpaw glared and Silverpaw. "Not like that. You're still allowed to be their friends, but you can't speak to them in public. Private places, away from other cats, are fine."
I could feel my freedom withering away, but I nodded. "Who else?"
Daisypaw stepped forward. "Molepaw. He's a dweeb."
"I've never spoken to him ever..." I mewed, trailing off.
Daisypaw rolled her eyes. "We intend to keep it that way. You also can't talk to Tigerpaw. He is Petalpaw's territory."
I narrowed my blue eyes. "Why would I want to ever speak to him again? He tried to murder Hawkpaw, if you've forgotten!"
Petalpaw's gaze became dark. "This brings us to Rule 2. You never question us. Ever."
I gulped, and regained my composure. "Yes Petalpaw."
Silverpaw flicked her tail, clearly bored. "You must suck up to the warriors, as much as you can. They need to believe they can put their entire trust in you."
I shrugged. "Anything else?"
Daisypaw mewed, "Don't be afraid to talk back to someone. If anyone treats you like dirt, you show them who's dirt!"
Petalpaw nodded. "Finally, always stick with us, and stay beautiful. No ugly she-cats in this group."
I didn't bother to question their logic. If it meant them no longer tormenting me, I was ready to agree to anything.
"It's a deal."
I was to spend the rest of the day hunting with Silverpaw. She didn't like me very much, but I shook that off. This wouldn't stay in place forever.
Suddenly, the silver striped she-cat went rigid. "There's a kittypet here! Let's get it!"
I nodded, and followed her through the woods, watching for a fat kittypet to stomp by.
Eventually, Silverpaw pounced out of a bush, and missed what appeared to be the kittypet by an inch.
All I could see was a small calico and white she-cat scampering back to Twoleg-Place, as fast as her little legs would carry her.
Silverpaw cursed over the loss, but my mind kept wandering to the scent she had left behind. Sure, it was tainted with Twoleg, but underneath that, I could very faintly smell something very familar.
So the question is, who is that kittypet and where have I seen her before?
So many lies
Were forced into play
Everything became falser
Day by day
And so, my new life as a 'popular' she-cat began. My life became harder and harder to live. The things I now had to do began to pile up on me.
"Midnightpaw! What are you doing?"
"No, you can't eat! You'll get fat!"
"Oh. Sorry Daisypaw."
That was when I found out about the starving. The more I thought about it, the more I noticed that they never ate.
"Groom your pelt, so it's silky."
"That was 10 minutes ago! Do it again!"
The consistant pelt-grooming took away so much of my energy, and I had little to begin with, due to the fact that I was no longer allowed to eat regularly.
But I think that worst part of all, was the gossip.
"I heard, that Redwhisker got pregnant! Can you believe it? At her age!"
"I heard, that the father isn't Stormclaw! She cheated on him with her sister's mate!"
"Pineshade would do that? That's so scandalous!"
I ended up lying, unable to repeat the secrets I heard.
"What did you find out Midnightpaw? Don't tell us you were too chicken to listen."
"Oh, I uh, found out that um, Ridgestar wants to replace Applewhisker?"
"That's huge! Good ear!"
I always felt bad. But I never said anything. Nobody would ever take my side. Not that I had turned over to "The Dark Side" as Flowerpaw called it.
I never spoke to Flowerpaw and Larkpaw. Flowerpaw hated me. Her eyes shot daggers everytime she saw me. I knew I would too, if our positions were reversed. Larkpaw didn't look angry. She looked more lost. I missed them, but I knew there was no going back. Not after all this.
Moons went by. I hardly ate. Almost never slept. I became weaker with every day that went by. Slowly, I could feel myself falling deeper and deeper into the hole I was digging myself.
Finally, one day, I collapsed. Literally.
I was on a hunting assessment with Lilyshade, and the smell of mouse was making me so hungry. I could feel my legs buckling, and I wanted that mouse. I was starving, and the green-turning orange leaves above my head began to make me dizzy.
That's when I fell over.
I could still feel the world spinning, and the blood pulsing through my brain. Lilyshade's frightened mew echoed in the back of my head. But the most vivid image during this was a sparrow flying far over my head.
I rolled over and blacked out.
Warm sunlight fell on my fur. I blinked open my eyes, and groaned, sitting up. My stomach still felt hollow and empty.
Cloverfang stepped into view. The brown she-cat's eyes lit up. "Midnightpaw! Good, good. Here, I brought you some prey from the fresh-kill pile. You need to eat as much as possible to get your weight up. You nearly died from exhastion, and lack of nourisment."
I gulped, realizing Petalpaw would kill me. But I nodded, likely due to my stomach taking over my head. Cloverfang tossed me a mouse and a vole. The scent hit me, and I started stuffing myself, no longer caring what anyone was going to say.
The prey was gone in a matter of seconds.
Cloverfang nodded to herself. "Now that you've eaten, you have a visitor." What? Firefly? Maybe Larkpaw?
I was clearly wrong, as Petalpaw stepped in. Oh great StarClan no. The white she-cat came up to me, luckily ignoring the prey. Cloverfang went back to sorting herbs, to give us some privacy.
Petalpaw purred. "Good, you're up."
"How long was I out for?" I mewed, trying to keep the strain out of my voice.
Petalpaw tilted her head. "I'd say about a day. Don't worry, you didn't miss anything important. But our mentors have to take it easier on us, as you passed out from exhastion. Good work!"
I looked at her like she was nuts. "I didn't do it on purpose! I was starving to death!"
Petalpaw muttered. "Fine. Whatever. Get fat. Not my problem." She turned tail and sped out of the den.
I looked at my paws, and sighed. I began to groom my pelt out of habit, figuring it would help keep my mind off more serious matters. I realied how much I missed Larkpaw and Flowerpaw, the she-cats who had been my first real friends.
My only real friends.
I continued grooming my pelt.
Cloverfang released me from the medicine den the next day, with instructions to eat as much as possible. Even Petalpaw couldn't argue with her, and I was allowed to eat, although they sniffed at me the whole time.
I knew I should have never agreed to be one of Petalpaw's little minions. But I couldn't back away. Not unless they did something completely unforgivable.
Now was not the time, however.
I sat near the Pine Copse, unable to think of a better place to go. No cats ever came up there anymore, and I figured it was a good place to sort out my thoughts.
That's when I heard the stick cracking.
Whipping around, my fur stood on end, only to relax at the sight of Larkpaw. The brown tabby on the other paw, looked spooked. "Sorry. I can leave."
"No!" I cried. Then I composed myself. "Please don't go."
Larkpaw walked closer to me. "Alright. Why, what's wrong?"
Tears started to flow from my eyes. "Everything. Everything is wrong. I don't know why I ever even spoke to Petalpaw and her ensemble. I hate myself right now. I mean, I always have, but now I hate myself more than ever."
I expected Larkpaw to agree with me, or leave, after this admission. Instead, she did something unexpected, and held me close to her. Her purrs were ridden with sobs, just like my own. "We've missed you so much. Flowerpaw and I have been so lost without you."
I leaned closer into her fur and whispered, "You have no idea."
Larkpaw stepped back, and looked at me. "If I talk to Flowerpaw, I'm sure she'll understand. She was just a little upset. We can fix this." Then she paused. "Oh, by the way, head down to Warmstones. Hawkpaw wanted to talk to you." Then she dashes off, eager to tell Flowerpaw of the new events.
Hawkpaw? Why? I shrug my shoulders, and walk down the hill. I can see him waiting for me, and I walk a little faster, my heart beating loudly. He looks at me, and calls out, "Midnightpaw!" I ran up to him. "Larkpaw said you were looking for me. What's up?"
His voice turns serious. "I needed to talk to you. To, well, thank you. You know, for saving my life. Moons ago."
I shrug. "No big deal."
He tilted his head. "But I thought you liked-"
I cut him off. "I don't know what I think! But I wasn't about to stand there and watch him murder you!" The tears came again, and I slammed my face into his chest, caking him with tears. The thing was, he sat there, and let me blabber.
Finally, he looked at me, and mewed, "I'm going to help you."
I pulled away and mewed, "How? My life is in shambles."
Hawkpaw licked my cheek. "How do you feel?"
"Broken." I mewed, summarizing my situation quickly.
Hawkpaw takes another glance. "You seem so happy though."
"That's because it's easier to smile when you start hurting."
We sat in silence, until behind us, I heard a noise. Turning, I spotted Tigerpaw emerging. "Midnightpaw, I need to talk to you." He mewed.
Hawkpaw nodded. "Go ahead."
I followed Tigerpaw into the forest, a knot of nervousness in my chest.
"Okay, what is it?" I mewed to him. The golden tom seemed shy. He was certainly not the tom who nearly killed Hawkpaw. Or defended me. Or even battle-trained with me.
He stuttered for a bit, then finally spoke. His voice quavered, but finally he let out a small mew.
"Midnightpaw, I'm afraid that I am still in love with you."
Giving up was not an option
Lies had to be decomposed
As war was waged on friends
And truths were exposed
I stood in shock, unable to understand what was going on. Tigerpaw sat there, fear in his eyes. Fear of rejection, and pain.
The golden tom sighed, and finally looked away. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything." I realized how much I was hurting him. With that, I saw how much I was hurting myself. Before anything could happen, I cried out what was inside my heart and mind.
"Tigerpaw, wait! I-I love you too..."
Tigerpaw looked back into my eyes, filled with relief, and clearly elated. "You have no idea how much this means to me." He purred, and held me close. I stood close to him, trying to believe in my words, and my thumping heart.
And yet, even though I nuzzled him, the monster in my chest was not satisfied. In fact, it seemed to recoil. But I ignored it, for the sake of not hurting anyone.
But it turned out that I was hurting myself most of all...
Tigerpaw headed off hunting, so I went back to camp, in hopes of re-connecting with Flowerpaw. The calico she-cat sat near Larkpaw, the latter attempting to get the former to speak with me again.
"Come on Flowerpaw! She needs us!"
"Were was she when we needed her? Off with her buddies! She can stick with them!"
"I can't trust her anymore! I can't trust anyone! Tigerpaw tried to kill my brother, Petalpaw and her friends ruined my life, and Midnightpaw left us for them!"
"I just can't Larkpaw. It's too late for her to come crawling back to us."
I knew she was right. I knew that I was a fool. But what I didn't know, was that her views on me were just about to change.
I turned around fear rising. Petalpaw stared at me, her green eyes alight with pure fury and carnage. "YOU TOOK HIM FROM ME! HE WAS ALL I EVER WANTED!"
I stepped backwards, but the white she-cat kept following me. She no longer reminded me of my gentle sister. Just a raging monster. As I could back up no farther, she stepped right up to me, and whispered, "You will never be one of us. We never cared about you, we never even wanted you. We will forever be enemies."
I struggled to get away but she held me back. "Do you really think anyone actually cares about you? It's all a fabricated story. Let's face the facts. You have nobody."
I hissed. "I have Firefly and Tigerpaw."
Petalpaw's eyes raged, but mewed ever so calmly. "How convienient then, that both of them are out of camp." She gave me a sick grin. "You'll pay for what you've done. I think your life is a good price, no?" She slid out one claw, and I braced myself for the cold embrace of death.
This was goodbye, to everything I loved, and cared for. This was the end. The claw got closer and closer as time began to slow. I finally shut my eyes, and awaited Coral in my afterlife. Oddly enough, I felt ready. Like this was my destiny. The claw hit my fur, and I loosened, waiting for my blood to leak out. For me to fall.
I was ready for my own death.
The pain didn't come. I expected that I'd died quickly, and Coral was waiting for me. Instead, when I opened my eyes, I was still alive in the BreezeClan camp.
In front of me, I could make out Flowerpaw beating the living daylights out of Petalpaw. The white she-cat finally manages to get away, not bothering to fight back.
"Thank you." I whispered to Flowerpaw. She shrugged. "I owed you for saving Hawkpaw. That's all." I sighed, and got up, and just about froze again. The entire camp was staring at us. Including Ridgestar and Applewhisker. I'd never seen my leader so angry before in my life.
"What in the name of StarClan is going on here?" He spat. "BreezeClan cats do not attack each other!" I gulped, and then realized his daggers were aimed at Flowerpaw. Realizing she couldn't get out of this, I mewed, "Don't be so harsh on her! The attack was provoked!"
Ridgestar turned around, and mewed, "Whatever do you mean?"
"I mean, that Petalpaw had cornered me, and was going to do something. I don't know what, but that's why Flowerpaw tackled her." I mewed.
Flowerpaw burst out, "She had her claws out! Petalpaw was going to murder her!" True fear shone in her eyes, and Ridgestar nodded. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Midnightpaw. I shall speak to Petalpaw, and hopefully finish this."
Flowerpaw and I looked at eachother, and said at the exact moment, "I've missed you so much."
And with that, the three of us were friends. Like it was supposed to be.
It had been a week since the attack. Molepaw was dead, after ramming into a speeding monster. We were sad he had to miss out on a Warrior's ceromony, but this was the fact.
Ridgestar leaped onto the Rock, and called BreezeClan forwards. I sat between Flowerpaw and Tigerpaw, nervously awaiting the ceremony. Even Petalpaw was there, despite the harsh rebukes Ridgestar had given her.
Ridgestar cleared his throat and mewed, "I, Ridge, leader of BreezeClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on these apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as warriors in turn."
I gulped, and held my breath. This was the moment I had been waiting for since I joined BreezeClan.
Ridgestar continued. "Midnightpaw, Flowerpaw, Larkpaw, Petalpaw, Daisypaw, Silverpaw, Firefly, Hawkpaw and Tigerpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
"I do!" I cried in unison with the rest of the apprentices.
Ridgestar looked at us, and nodded. "Then by the powers of StarClan, I name you Midnightflower, Flowerwhisker, Larkshadow, Petalshine, Silverheart, Daisybreeze, Tigerstripe, Hawkfoot and Firefly."
I felt my fur ripple, as BreezeClan began to cheer. "Midnightflower! Flowerwhisker! Larkshadow! Petalshine! Silverheart! Daisybreeze! Tigerstripe! Hawkfoot! Firefly!"
It was in that moment that I knew I belonged in BreezeClan. Finally.
Ridgestar let us go for a little bit before our vigil, and I took the time to walk with Firefly in the woods. We'd been growing distant since we joined BreezeClan, and I wanted a chance to reconnect. We didn't have Coral anymore, and it made me sad.
We reached a clearing, when I stopped, spotting Tigerstripe. Firefly caught the look in my eyes, and scampered off with a quick, whispered, "Be careful."
I began to walk towards him, carefully pushing past the branches, when I heard him cry out. "Petalshine!"
My blood froze. Still inside a bush, I watched as Petalshine ran towards him, her eyes alight. Unable to move, I watched the scene unfold in front of me. Petalshine and Tigerstripe nuzzled eachother, and I sat in the shadows, disgusted.
Petalshine mewed, "I'm so glad you could see sense. I knew you liked me. I'm just so glad we can finally be together." She weaved her tail with his, and I hissed silently. But what broke my heart, was Tigerstripe's next few words.
"Oh Petalshine, I always loved you. I never liked Midnightflower. She's just a freak. I used her to make you jealous."
My world came crashing down around me, as reality gave me a harsh slap in the face. "Tigerstripe..." I whispered. "How could I have been so stupid..."
The two of them purred, pressed together as one. Rage growing inside me, I leaped out, tears burning in my eyes. Petalshine went slack, and bolted, seeing the fury in my eyes. Tigerstripe stuttered, then mewed, "How did you-how much did you-" I broke him off with a swipe to the nose.
"How could you?" I spat, shuddering. "I believed in you. I loved you! And it was all a lie?" Tigerstripe's breathing sped up, my anger scaring him. "You used me. I nearly lost my friends forever! You nearly killed Hawkfoot! You said that you loved me. What else was a lie?"
Tigerstripe growled. "Why not? I needed Petalshine to commit to me. So I used you, the Clan freak to get her jealous! It worked! Why would anyone ever love you? Nobody wants you. You're just a useless piece of fox-dung!"
His words hurt even more than Petalshine's, when she made fun of me. My eyes stung, and I nearly fought back, when I heard a yowl of carnage and fury.
My sister leaped down, and landed on Tigerstripe. "Go Midnightflower!" She screeched. "I'll deal with this worthless excuse for a cat!"
Panic rising, I launced backwards, landing back in the bush, watching the most frightening scene ever unfold in front of me. Firefly slit open Tigerstripe from nose to tail, his blood begining to pour out. Oddly enough, he didn't scream. It chilled me.
Firefly didn't stop there. She ripped open his stomach entirely, exposing his organs. She began to rip them out with her teeth, letting them fall onto the forest floor. She continued cutting him into bits, his skin flapping in the sudden breeze.
She proceded to smash his head open with a rock, letting his brains leak out onto the ground. With her claws, Firefly ripped his eyes out of their sockets, cutting them open. He had been dead for ages, but she continued mauling him, refusing to let up.
The most disturbing part of all, was when she began to eat his organs. I nearly got sick, watching her, unable to look away, but also unable to stare. Firefly...
As she chomped on his liver, a twig snapped, and I heard Silverheart cursing. Firefly froze, then ran, dropping his chewed organs in his mutilated body.
As she made her escape, her long fur snagged on a bramble, and she pulled it off, running as far as she could into the distance. I didn't look back, but I could easily hear Petalshine and Silverheart's deafening screams.
Firefly, what have you done?
Revenge was planned
And carefully formed
The scene was set
The act preformed
Cold air washed over my pelt. I hid in the shadows, the screaming continuing. It was hard to believe that all the prey in the forest hadn't run away. Pawsteps were pounding the forest floor, and it was the only thing that could make me move.
As Ridgestar burst through the trees, he froze at the sight of Tigerstripe's body. The patrol of cats behind him stood frozen too.
Finally, Flaresky broke the silence. "What happened here?"
Petalshine began to splutter, and the tears cut up her speech. Silverheart quickly took over. "I don't really know, but Petalshine said she needed my help here, so I came with her here, and when we arrived," She jestured to the body, "This was what we found."
Petalshine began to jerk violently, spasms tearing her body. "I-it's her fault! All her fault!" She cried, sounding hysterical.
Ridgestar let out a breath, and mewed, "Who is this 'her'?"
Petalshine's voice became rugged, as she rasped, "Her." The white she-cat's eyes fell on Firefly's torn fur. In that moment, Ridgestar saw it too, and a flash of realization came into his eyes.
He can't hurt Firefly... She only wanted to protect me...
Petalshine began to sob, and that distracted the patrol enough to take her back to camp. For the first time in my life, I felt sorry for her. I realized how badly this had hurt her.
Before I could let my emotions take over, I ran the other way, in search of my sister.
In short, I never found her. I spent so much time searching for her, that I barely made it back to camp before the vigil. Firefly wasn't there. I sat down next to Hawkfoot. "What happened?" He hissed. "I heard Tigerstripe was dead. You know how it happened?"
I debated in my head. As much as i wanted to tell Hawkfoot, ans as much as I trusted him, I was fearful of Firefly. So, I lied. "No, I was hunting with Firefly, and heard Petalshine and Silverheart screaming. I was inside a bush, watching Petalshine...break." That part was true, at least.
Hawkfoot nodded. "I'm surprised you're not more upset over this. I mean, you loved him, after all." I shook my head. "I don't think I ever loved him."
Hawkfoot looked at me. "What do you mean?" Just then, Lilyshade walked in front of us. "I know you're grieving, but you need to begin your vigils now. Has anyone seen Firefly?"
I shook my head, then stopped as Firefly padded into camp. Lilyshade nodded to us. "Wonderful. Lie down, and we'll begin."
Lilyshade walked off, and I shot a glance at my sister. She looked forlorn, and empty. Guilt was pooled in her eyes, and I knew how bad she was dealing with this.
As if reading my thoughts, she whispered to me, "I couldn't lose you. I'm so sorry, but I just... lost control."
But under her breath, she muttered, "But I would do it all again in a heartbeat."
Morning came. I fell asleep in the warriors's den, almost right away. But my eyes stayed open long enough to see Firefly slipping away. My thoughts began to swim, and my eyes shut, as I embraced dreams. My one escape from reality.
Or so I believe it is.
The dream begins in a foggy forest. I walk through it, cold, and shivering. I don't understand why it bothers me so much. My thick fur usually protects me from cold weather. I walk further into the forest, trying not to let my fear get the best of me.
Dead leaves crunch beneath my paws, and I pause, unable to see a way out. Then, from above comes a ray of light. I want the light. I need the light. My claws stick to the nearest tree, and I climb upwards, desperate for the light.
When my head pokes above the forest, into the sky, I can see a familiar face waiting for me. The black and white she-cats purrs at the sight of me. "Oh Midnight, you've grown so much!"
I run towards her, and catch her in a hug. "Swish! I thought you were gone!"
My mother mews softly, "I am never gone. I will always watch over my daughters."
I loom around the cloudy expanse. "Is this StarClan? Is Coral here? Can I talk to her?"
My mother shakes her head. "No, no and no. I do not walk with StarClan, as I never was a Clan cat. Coral does not reside in this land. Sadly, I am not sure where she does walk. However, I am sure she is happy."
I sigh. "I want to tell her I'm sorry." Then I pause. "Swish, do you know about Firefly? What she...did?"
Swish turns away, pain crippling her body. "Yes. Yes I know. You've noticed she hasn't been the same since the fire. The trauma has destroyed her. Firefly is holding on, and sometimes loses control."
The air becomes less warm as my mother finishes her sentence. "You see the forest below us?" She mews. "This is the forest Firefly now walks. The mindset she lives in."
"I found light!" I burst out. "She can do it!"
Swish shakes her head. "It won't happen. You were calm. You didn't show your fear. Midnight, you looked for a way out, and you climbed for this light. Firefly can't do that. She doesn't have an escape route. She'll be there forever, decomposing as the forest consumes her."
I shiver. "We can't help her?"
Swish ignores my question and mews, "Something is coming. Broken enemies will be broken twice. Revenge will be plotted, and vengeance executed."
Gulping, I mewed, "What do you mean?"
Swish whispers, "I mean, that Firefly is about to die."
I shoot up, draped in sweat. Flowerwhisker stirs, and then looks at me. "What's wrong?"
Firefly isn't in the den. Sighing, I mew, "Come with me. And bring Larkshadow. I guess it's time you guys know."
Flowerwhisker gives me an odd glance, then nods. "Sure."
The two of them follow me to the Pine Copse. It's the only place that's ever felt remotely secret to us. Still, I make sure that nobody else is around. And even then, I speak in a whisper.
"Okay, spill." Flowerwhisker mews. "You said you needed to tell us something, so go."
I gulp, then mew ever so delicately, "I know who murdered Tigerstripe."
Larkshadow's eyes grow wide, and she whispers, "What? How did you find out?"
Taking a cue from us, Flowerwhisker whispers, "That's impossible."
I shake my head. "I watched it happen. And honestly, I think it's my fault."
Larkshadow puts a paw on my shoulder. "It couldn't have been your fault. Do you mind telling us who killed him."
My voice hovers between under my breath, and non-existant, as I croak, "It was Firefly."
Flowerwhisker visibly pales. "What? Why?" She hunches closer to Larkshadow, as I continue.
"I was hunting with her right after our ceremony. I spotted Tigerstripe, and she let me talk to him. I crept up to him, only to find that..." I choked. "He was waiting for Petalshine. He loved her, and used me to get her to love him forever.
Flowerwhisker muttered. "If he wasn't already dead I would have torn his legs off.:
"He-he said awful, cruel things to me. Firefly heard and tackled him, telling me to run. I got into a bush, and watched her tear him apart." Tears began to slick my fur. "And then she ran. Now she's gone."
Larkshadow looked into my eyes. "That was not your fault. But the best thing you can do is to find Firefly. She's probably worrying about you too."
Sighing, I mew, "Okay. I just don't know what I'll do if I don't find her."
As if I had summoned her, I heard a mew from behind. "Did you say my name?"
Larkshadow freezes, and I whip around, to see my sister walk out of the bushes. "I was passing by, and I heard you say my name. What's going on?" Her voice was calm, but I could detect fear in her stature. Quickly I mewed, "There you are! I told them that I couldn't find you, and was worried."
Larkshadow nodded. "Yes. We were about to go searching for you."
Flowerwhisker licked her paws, desperatly trying to act casual. "But we've found you. So I'm going to go back to sleep."
Firefly looked at me, her eyes saying more than her words ever could. Did you tell them?
I don't want to lie to my sister. But I can't afford to shatter her. So, ever so slightly, I shake my head. Firefly relaxes, and mews, "Can we go hunting?"
I nod, following her. I don't know what's going to happen to her. How she still lives with this fact is a mystery to me.
We get further into the woods, when she mews, "I'm sorry."
This catches me off guard. "What for?"
Firefly mutters. "You know. Tigerstripe. After what he said, I thought my attack was justified. But now, I don't even know what's real."
I remember the dark forest from my dream. The one Firefly now sees as reality. "It's going to be okay. I promise."
We continued in silence, unable to say anything more. Suddenly, Firefly froze near the ravine. There was a long drop to the bottom, and it lead to instant death. Always.
I stood next to her, unable to spot what she so clearly saw. Then, movement startled me. Silverheart was hutning near the ravine. Relaxing, I mewed, "We can go if you want."
Firefly doesn't move. Instead, she mews, "She's about to die."
At first, I don't know how to respond. Then it clicks. If we don't do something, it'll be the repeat of Tigerstripe. Great StarClan, what do we do?
Firefly hisses, and retreats into the bushes. "She's going to die. Very soon."
I shake my head. "Firefly, you're insane. She's going to be fine. You can't just say she's going to die!"
Firefly's green eyes almost glow. "But she will. So tragic." As if on cue, Sliverheart slips behind me. I whip around, just in time to see her fall over the top of the cliff. I try to run after her, but Firefly catches me in time.
"Don't go after her! She hurt you! I refuse to ley you save her!" Firefly spits with unusual malice.
I look at her, blazing with fury. "If I leave her to die, I am no better than her! What would Swish have said? What would Coral have said?"
Firefly's brief hesitation is enough time for me to dart forwards. Silverheart is still hanging off the edge, and I reach down my paw. "Silverheart! Grab on!"
She shakes her head. "It's no use. Besides, Molepaw will be waiting for me in StarClan." I gulp. "I can't let you go!"
SIlverheart smiles. "I admire your courage. Even after I was so awful to you..." She trails off. Her green eyes look lost, and suddenly, she looks back at me. "Will you promise me one small thing?" She mews.
I nod. "Anything."
"Tell Daisybreeze she was a great best friend... And that I'm sorry I didn't care for her, the way she cared for me." Silverheart mews. Before I can ask what she means by that, Silverheart lets go.
Moments later, I hear a crash. Looking over the side, I can faintly see her silver striped body sprawled on the bottom. A quick, and painless death.
Then, with Firefly at my heels, I race back to camp.
Applewhisker is sending out a patrol, when I reach camp. Firefly is no longer with me. Applewhisker waits for me to catch my breath, then mews, "What's going on?"
"Silverheart. Hutning. Ravine. Slipped. Dead." I mew, heaving my stomach.
Registering my words, Applewhisker yells out, but everything is silent now. By the time I realize I've fallen over, cats are running out of camp, and I can see Daisybreeze hightailing it to follow them.
Spots cover my eyes, and I black out.
When I wake, Larkshadow is nearby. "Midnightflower!" She cries. "They brought Silverheart back to camp. You were right. She's dead."
I gulp. Firefly's creepy words had become reality. Steadying myself, I mew, "How is Daisybreeze? She looked...destroyed."
Larkshadow winces. We don't know. She's very distraught. I guess I would be too, if it were me. Silverheart was her best friend after all."
Remembering Silverheart's last words, I push myself up. "Where are you going?" Larkshadow mews. "Cloverfang says you're supposed to stay resting."
"It'll just take a moment. I need to talk to Daisybreeze." I mew. Larkshadow sighs, and I dart out of the den, before she changes her mind. Luckily, the cream she-cat is in the clearing, mourning over her friend's body.
She looks at me, tears shining in her eyes. "What do you want?"
"Silverheart told me to tell you something. Things you'd probably want to hear." I mew.
Daisybreeze nods. "Go then."
I suck in a breath, and mew, "She said, that you were a great best friend... and something about being sorry for not caring."
Daisybreeze whips around, and looks me in the eye. "What? She said that?"
Confused, I nodded. "She made me promise to tell you. It was her last wish."
The cream she-cat wails, and puts her muzzle on Silverheart's body. "You died thinking that I hated you! I believed that you would never care about me!" She begins to blubber, and I back away, suddenly scared.
Then she glares at me. "Yes, run! Just because you're afraid of this! Well, I'm not! I loved her! I was in love with Silverheart!" She screeches. The whole camp is looking at us now, and finally Silverheart's words make sense to me.
Daisybreeze sees the shock on everyone's faces, and screams, "You're all afraid too! Afraid of a different kind of love! I used to be afraid too! Well, I've stopped! And if you lot weren't a bunch of cowards, you'd accept me!"
With that outburst, she turns tail and runs. I find my legs running after her.
I was not the only one to follow Daisybreeze, as both Petalshine and Stormleap have followed me. Petalshine's face is full of grief, and I can tell she doesn't want to lose her only remaining friend.
However, I can't place if Stormleap is more angry at his daughter, or afraid for her safety. He says nothing as we chase her.
Suddenly, I slow down as I realize where she's going. "She's going to throw herself off the ravine!"
Stormleap panics, and we pick up the pace. Daisybreeze has halted by the cliff, and I run up to her. She pushes me away. "You can't stop this! This is my life! Silverheart is gone! But she will wait for me in StarClan!"
Petalshine runs up, pleaing. "No! Stormleap and Brindlefur will be heart broken! Molepaw's already dead! What will they do without you?"
Daisybreeze growls. "I don't care. They didn't respect my love for SIlverheart. So this is how I'll repay those cowards."
Then she jumps off.
Tonight is the gathering. I shuffle my paws as I walk beside Firefly. I am not sure of the outcome, and worry for my sister's safety.
We arrive in the clearing, and Ridgestar jumps onto the large rock in the center of the clearing. Cats are gathered around, and finally, the Gathering begins.
Wrenstar speaks first. "GorseClan is doing well, despite the sudden weather changes. We have three new warriors, Seaheart, Brightsong and Firestorm!"
The cats around me took up the cheer, as did I. Wrenstar then continues. "We also have recently lost our warriors, Bramblesnow and Flareshadow."
The leaders of ForestClan and SwallowClan make their reports, and finally Ridgestar steps up. "BreezeClan is well. We have several warriors, Midnightflower, Petalshine, Larkshadow, Flowerwhisker, Hawkfoot and Firefly."
The other Clans cheered for us, and Ridgestar mewed, "Tigerstripe, Silverheart and Daisybreeze, several brave warriors, also died, along with Molepaw. We grieve for them, but we are ready for anything."
Windstar mewed, "Does anyone have anything to say?"
Suddenly, Petalshine stands up, shaking. I gulp, nervous. "I do." She mews, fury in her green eyes.
Firefly's eyes widen. "Oh no..." She whispers.
"Run." I mutter, but it's too late. Petalshine has already singled her out. "There! Firefly! Firefly murdered Tigerstripe!"
Ridgestar looks at her. "Petalshine, this is a serious accusation. What proof do you have of this?"
Petalshine snarls. "Her fur was on the branches of the crime scene. And it was in his mutilated body!"
Cats around us gasp. Firefly crouches. Terror is in her eyes, and I don't know what to do.
Flaresky looks at Firefly. "Firefly, is this true?" She croaks.
I hold my breath as my sister nods. "Yes. I'm so sorry Flaresky. He-he hurt Midnight. I had to protect her! I never saved Coral!"
The ginger she-cat began to shudder. "I'm sorry Flaresky!" She yowled. I was unsure of why she yowled for her best friend. I guess she feels that she betrayed her.
Flaresky darts off, clearly unable to deal with this. Ridgestar sighs. "Petalshine, I suppose you are right. We will imprison Firefly until her trial."
BreezeClan disperses, each of the Clans heading back to their territory. Firefly is marched with Ridgestar and Applewhisker.
Petalshine looks avenged.
The final day
Came at last
As she saw a face
From her haunting past
The next morning, I went directly to Firefly's prison. As I passed the Elder's Den, I looked inside. Jayfrost gave me a small smile, but Galeclaw and Brindlefur turned away, while Poppywhisker openly sneered.
I rushed past, and crashed into Cloverfang. "Sorry!" I cried. The brown she-cat stood up. "It's fine. Look, can you get Firefly to eat this?" She tossed me a mouse. "She freaks out if anyone enters, even Flaresky."
I nodded, and stepped inside. My sister lay in the corner, twitching.
"Firefly?" I mewed softly. "I brought you some prey."
The ginger she-cat turns around, still shaking. "Midnight." She rasps. I don't bother to correct her. "That's right. I brought you this."
She quickly eats the mouse, then mews, "Why did I kill him? I could have just hurt him. But I killed him." I nod. "It's okay. Ridgestar will give you a fair trial."
She sighs. "I hate myself so much. If I had seen reason, maybe this would have never happened."
I nuzzle her. "It's okay. We can fix this."
She shook her head. "The only way to fix this, would be to leave BreezeClan. Leave all this behind. Go home."
"What about Coral?" I mewed. "We'd remember her every day. It would be too painful."
Firefly sighed. "We can't stay. If Ridgestar doesn't sentence me to death, another cat will. And they'll make your life terrible. Leaving is the only way."
I thought through it in my head. If we left, then we'd be pursued forever, hated by all four Clans. If just Firefly left, she would be a menace, and I would be targeted for life. If we stayed, Firefly would die.
What would happen if I stay?
Trying to shake my doubt away, I mew, "How are you doing with Flaresky? I heard she came to see you earlier." Right away, I knew this was bad, as Firefly crouched.
"Don't-don't say her name!" She wails. "She hates me! I betrayed her! She could have loved me, and now we can never be!"
To hear my sister say that she loved Flaresky is a shock, but I shake it away. "Firefly?"
She sobs. "I've lost her! She was all I wanted, when I started over! Now she's gone!"
Terrified by her outburst, I backed out of the den. I pushed my way past several cats, just trying to get to the forest.
The scent of pine trees soon engulfed me, and I began to relax. Desperate to get Firefly's meltdown out of my head, I decide to hunt.
There is a squirrel nearby, and I crouch, stalking it. I'm just about to catch it, when a sudden thump scares it off. Growling, I spin, and see a kittypet running off.
"Stupid kittypet." I mumble. "I'll go teach it a lesson."
The kittypet is oddly thin, but very loud. I hardly have to pay attention to follow it.
Finally, the spry thing stops, and I get a good look. It's a she-cat, and she's a white calico. I realize it's the same kittypet I saw as an apprentice, when I was hunting with Silverheart.
As I take a second glance, I realize she's not really calico, her fur is just badly burned. Nervous, I creep forward, only to rustle a leaf.
The kittypet whips around in fear. "Please don't hurt me!" She squeaks, her voice quavering.
And it's in that moment that I recognize this kittypet. Her voice, her pelt, her bright green eyes.
And yet, I'm afraid to speak, for if I do, I may be wrong.
Do I dare?
Finally, desperation takes over, and I step into the light.
I must know what is going on here.