The gray cat shook her head. Her tail whisked through the dark air, blocking out some of Silverfur's blurry sight.
"Graypelt!" Silverfur wailed.
"Alright," Graypelt sighed. Silverfur was dying.
Silverfur's eyes blinked twice, very quickly, and then flickered. Graypelt noticed.
"You need to get Flowerstem to help your eyes," Graypelt advised, forcing her voice not to quaver. They both knew nothing would help.
"No, Graypelt!" Silverfur howled. Her voice calmed. "I don't want to waste precious medicine supplies on an almost-blind lump of silver fur..."
Stemstar- Pinkish-gray she-cat
Creektail- Blue-silver tom
Flowerstem- yellow-orange she-cat
WARRIORS• toms and she-cats not expecting or nursing kits
Nighthawk- Pure black tom with huge yellow eyes
Silverfur- Silver she-cat with light blue eyes
Greentail- Green-brown she-cat
Mossclaw- Green-brown she-cat
Spotfur- black she-cat with white spots
Sunclaw- Orange tabby tom
Harepelt- dark brown tom
Leopardheart- brown she-cat with black spots
Waterfur- blue-gray she-cat
Starfoot- light gray tom
Whitepelt- completely white she-cat
APPRENTICES• cats 6 moons or older training to be warriors
Skypaw- light gray tom
Oakpaw- light brown she-cat
Goldpaw- bright orange she-cat
QUEENS AND KITS• she-cats nursing or expecting kits
Amberfur- small light brown she-cat expecting Starfoot's kits
Gingertail- orange tabby she-cat -- Leafkit, Blackkit, and Sandkit
ELDERS• retired she-cats and toms
Dapplepelt- calico she-cat
Darkstar- Dark brown tom
Lakefur- green-brown she-cat
Treetail-light brown she-cat
Grassheart- greenish-gray she-cat
Stumptail- gray tom
Shrewfoot- tan tom
Noblestar- orange tabby tom
Grayfur- dark gray she-cat
Yellowtail- yellow tom
Batfur- black she-cat
Dirtclaw- light brown tom
QUEENS AND KITS•
Thrushclaw- tan she-cat expecting Noblestar's kits
Milkyeye- white she-cat
Breezestar- light blue she-cat
Treetail- brown tom
Bushtail- brown tom
Shellclaw- light gray she-cat
Windfoot- white tom
QUEENS AND KITS•
Light-tail- green-brown she-cat
Wolfstar- dark gray tom
Streamclaw- gray she-cat
Featherfur- orange tabby tom
Riverfur- blue she-cat
Shellstream- sleek white she-cat
QUEENS AND KITS•
Deepear- gray-brown she-cat- Vinekit, and Dogkit
Silverpaw licked her lips. The squirrel was only a tail-length away. She could just taste it.
Silverpaw's tail swished in the leaves. The squirrel darted its eyes to the tree she was standing behind. Silverpaw stiffened. After a moment, it went back to foraging for nuts and forgot about Silverpaw.
Silverpaw crept up on it, and it started to run. She chased it, the blood pounded in her ears as she imagined what would happen if she caught it.
Soon enough, she snapped back into reality and eyed the squirrel intently as she ran at it. It climbed a tree and Silverpaw froze, sitting up straight and craning her neck to watch it hop limb to limb. Then she remembered what Skyclan cats were made of.
She jumped suddenly onto the trunk of the tree, scraping her claws along the gnarly bark for a paw hold. She fell back down and frowned. Silverpaw jumped to the lowest branch and dove for the squirrel. Leaf- fall squirrels were rare, and nonetheless, she would definitely pass her warriors' assessment. Sunclaw would be proud.
Silverpaw ran as fast as she could and clawed the squirrel's tail to her. As she dragged it toward her she prepared for the killing bite.
CRUNCH! Silverpaw had bit the head. Blood flowed over the squirrel. It was ruined.
Silverpaw hung her head shamefully. The clan would still be hungry, so it would be okay, but...
"Silverpaw!" A voice called. It was her mentor, Sunclaw. "Great catch!"
Silverpaw tried to sound bright. "Thanks! It was hard, a little."
Sunclaw flicked his tail. He let out a sly, amused purr. "I bet it was," He said, his voice even, though his whiskers were twitching.
"Don't pretend!" Silverpaw protested, but she was smiling.
Sunclaw nuzzled her flank, then looked up at her. "I think you are to be a warrior today," he mewed. "Go get ready, and I'll be waiting."
I'm a warrior! Silverpaw thought.
She thought of names as she hopped from one branch to another.
Silverfeather, Silverpelt, Silverclaw- No, none of them would suit her. She was a fierce little apprentice- Warrior! The excitement flooded back into her as she pictured her, Greenpaw and Mosspaw on a patrol together, all as warriors.
Mosspaw and Greenpaw were Silverpaw's fellow apprentices, who were doing their warriors' assessments.
Silverpaw picked her way through the tangle of branches that circled above the camp. She got through and dropped into camp, near the warriors' den, to many cats surprise.
Silverpaw tried to calm them, but to no use. They weren't very frightened, at most their tails were quivering.
She spectated the camp, looking closely at its walls, the dens, and even the grassy clearing near the entrance. It had changed so much from when she was a kit. The nursery had moved from the edge of the camp to the middle, effect of a badger coming into it and stealing a kit.
Poor Robinkit, Silverpaw thought as she started to clean her fur out. The mud and leaves that stuck plastered to her pelt were hard to get off. Nighthawk padded over to her and licked her muzzle.
"Need some help?" He asked. Nighthawk had been a warrior only about a moon or so.
Silverpaw didn't need help, but her tongue ached already, and she had to give in the the urge to say yes.
"Thanks, Nighthawk," Silverpaw murmured as her eyes started to close. She felt Nighthawk's warm tongue rasping over her flank as she fell asleep.
"Silverpaw!" A voice said, low and dreamy. Silverpaw was only half awake.
She snapped open her eyes and Nighthawk stood there.
"I did the best I could," he meowed sheepishly.
Silverpaw looked down at her paws. A little mud was still stuck to her left forepaw, and her muzzle was not cleaned at all.
"I'm sorry, I didn't do your muzzle! Do you-"
"It's okay! Nighthawk, you go... do warrior stuff. You did fine, I'll do the last part," Silverpaw twitched her whiskers.
Her warrior ceremony was probably soon. She looked up at the sky. It was bright enough that she stopped looking in an instant.
"Sun-high," Nighthawk mewed. The black warrior licked her muzzle like he was going to clean it.
Silverpaw couldn't protest, but it wasn't hard to sleep again. She slipped away in just a moment.
It felt like only a tail-length of rest, but she was awake again. Nighthawk was beckoning her to the clearing, where cats were gathered. The moon shined down on them, almost a full moon.
Silverpaw held her breath as Nighthawk looked up at the tree that Stemstar was standing high on. Silverpaw started into his bright yellow eyes.
Stemstar began to speak, her voice echoing around the filled camp.
"There are warriors we wish to greet into the clan! Greenpaw, please step forward."
Sparrowtail, Greenpaw's mentor, twined his tail with Greenpaw's.
"Do you promise to enforce and uphold the warrior code, and defend your clan at even the cost of your life?"
Greenpaw looked flustered, and nodded. "I do!"
"Mosspaw! Step forward!" Stemstar glanced at Silverpaw, who nodded.
"Do you promise to uphold and enforce the warrior code, and defend your clan at the risk of your life?"
"Yes!" Mosspaw shouted. Several cats shot glares at her. Mosspaw quieted. "I do."
"Silverpaw! Please step forward! Do you promise to-"
"I do!" Silverpaw called a little too early.
"Silverpaw!" Sunclaw scolded, and he sounded dissatisfied.
Stemstar lowered her head, and her eyes twinkled with amusement.
"Do you promise to uphold the warrior code, and defend your clan with the cost of your life?" Stemstar yowled.
Silverpaw then called two clear words that everyone could hear:
Nighthawk gave her a yellow gaze, his eyes flashing with emotion. It said to her that she was going to be a good warrior.
"Now I give you the warrior names! Greenpaw, you will now be known as Greentail!" Stemstar paused for a long cheer. "Mosspaw, from this moment on, you will be known as Mossclaw!" A cheer broke out. " Finally, Silverpaw. You are now called Silverfur!"
"Greentail! Mossclaw! Silverfur!"
Nighthawk stepped up to her and butted her flank. Silverfur cuffed him playfully around the ear.
"No, really!" Nighthawk meowed. He turned to the warriors den. "You sleep with us now."
Drowsily, Silverfur got up from her spot on the ground. Her vigil had made her cold and tired. Luckily, Nighthawk had offered to take her shift in the middle of the night. His glittering black pelt drowned out his beautiful yellow eyes.
Silverfur climbed into her nest. Her eyes closed within moments, and soon she was asleep.
◇ ♡ ◇
Silverfur jolted awake. Her fur pressed deep into Nighthawk's, she was definitely warmer than when she was sitting vigil.
"Good morning," Silverfur muttered to Nighthawk.
"Good morning, Silverfur," Nighthawk mewed.
Silverfur sat up and look at her nest, then at the walls of the warriors' den. It was huge, the den. And her nest was lined with feathers, and there was moss stuffed in every crack. Nighthawk and her seemed to have just one nest to share. Actually, to Silverfur it seemed that everyone was sharing.
Silverfur got to her paws and trodded out of the den, into the cool air of leaf-fall dawn.
Nighthawk rushed out with her. "Are you tired? Do you need anything?"
"N-not really," Silverfur stammered. "Maybe, I need some hunting my first day as a warrior."
Nighthawk butted her flank. "I can take you," he offered, stretching.
"I would like that, maybe my father could come." Silverfur yawned.
"I bet he would, too."
"I wanted it to be, maybe, just-just you and me, but..."
Silverfur purred and bowled him to the ground. Nighthawk pinned her.
"Let's go!" She meowed, racing to the exit of camp. She climbed a tree, Nighthawk on her heels.
"Wanna climb high?" Silverfur mewed. She jumped to the next branch up.
"Hmm, not tall enough," she inspected the next tree. It was tall, taller than all the others.
"Hey, I found one!" Silverfur called.
Nighthawk shifted his paws. "Umm..." Nighthawk looked behind him. Turning back, he mewed. " I'm not such a fan of climbing high."
Silverfur purred. "Scaredy-mouse! You're afraid of heights!"
Nighthawk scowled. "I knew it!" He smiled. " I'm coming!"
Silverfur leaped down from the tree gracefully and caught him by the scruff. She carried him up to the first branch.
"Ready?" She asked.
"No," Nighthawk admitted.
Silverfur raced him up the tree.
From lowest to the tallest branch, Nighthawk was always behind.
Silverfur was almost at the top. Nighthawk was stowed away at the third branch. "Nighthawk! I'm going to beat you-"
Her paws started to slip. She scrambled for a grip. Silverfur couldn't find one. "No!" Nighthawk looked afraid as Silverfur fell from her perch on the tree.
He jumped off of the tree and pushed his muzzle deep into Silverfur's fur.
"Nighthawk!" A loud command shot through the air. Creektail.
"Deputy," Nighthawk replied calmly. "Silverfur fell from the top of the tree."
Creektail eyes fell. "Silverfur!" He croaked. He threw himself to his daughter.
"Creektail?" She coughed feebly. "Hello."
Creektail got up. "I believe that you, Nighthawk, did this! I will talk with Stemstar to manage your banishment."
"What? Creektail, I didn't do anything!" Nighthawk circled around Silverfur frantically, protesting.
Creektail lashed his tail. "Take her to camp. At least you will be spending your last moments HELPING."
Nighthawk's tail fell. "Alright," he mumbled.
Creektail rested his tail on Nighthawk's shoulder. "When she gains conciousness, she'll tell us herself what you did or did not."
Nighthawk grabbed Silverfur's scruff gently. He pulled her over his head and onto his back.
"Careful!" Creektail growled.
Nighthawk snorted and continued on.
Nighthawk almost tripped on a root. Silverfur stirred. "Go back to sleep," Nighthawk murmured softly into her ear.
Silverfur rested her head on his back again, and Nighthawk set off.
Soon enough, the two toms had made it back to camp with Silverfur still in mint condition.
Nighthawk entered camp and glares hit him from all sides. Judging whispers filled the camp with tension, and the clan watched Nighthawk like distrustful owls.
"Flowerstem!" Nighthawk called after the surveying eyes of the queens died off a little bit.
A bright tan she-cat sneezed as she walked out of the medicine den. Moss dangled from her whiskers, and she smelled strongly of catmint. Flowerstem caught a glance of Silverfur and instantly shook off the moss and hurried to check her.
"Who-and how- would do this? Those mouse-brains, whoever they are, they are going to pay in medicine supplies!" Flowerstem shook her head. "Thank Starclan no broken bones, but her shoulder might be dislocated."
Nighthawk's breath caught in his throat. Was Silverfur okay?
"She- she fell out of a tree-"
Flowerstem sighed. "And I thought Creektail was a worrier!"
Nighthawk shifted his paws. "It is true. We were racing to the top, and she- she slipped." His voice lowered to a whisper. "Creektail thought I did it,"
"Well, he can be overprotective sometimes," Flowerstem glanced some sympathy towards him. "Don't worry about the Clan. They do that to everyone once in their life!"
Silverfur's tail twitched. "Night- Nighthawk," her paws stretched closer to him.
Nighthawk nuzzled Silverfur. Flowerstem watched him as he talked quietly with her, sharing secrets that she might never know. Flowerstem speculated on the fact that she might never know something very important, or something that didn't matter at all, or even a secret that Nighthawk and Silverfur shared through warm glances and quick nuzzles.
Creektail peeked at Silverfur and Nighthawk sharing tongues through the lichen of the Deputy's den. He smiled. Nighthawk had not hurt Silverfur. Creektail knew.
Silverfur was curled up in a tight ball with Nighthawk licking her. Silverfur feebly rasped her tongue over Nighthawk's neck. Silverfur's pelt still had the lump on her shoulder that was the dislocated bone. The fur on her flank was plastered with dark red blood that had dried and made the clearing stink with the stench.
Nighthawk's tongue was already aching. He stopped cleaning Silverfur as her head slipped to the ground. Nighthawk crouched down next to her and whispered in her ear.
"Sweet dreams," Nighthawk murmured. He picked up a pile of moss next to the medicine den and started to make a nest around Silverfur. The moss shivered as a wind blew through the camp.
Gingertail padded out of the nursery, looking exasperated."And the kits are gone again," the queen sighed as she turned around to head back in.
Nighthawk shook his head, mildly amused. He turned around to face Silverfur, and caught a glimpse of a blue-silver pelt coming from the nursery. Creektail bowed his head and mewed an apology to Nighthawk.
Nighthawk stepped back. "Thank you. Do we still have to ask Silverfur?"
Creektail purred. "You have stolen her heart, and you love her as well. I am pretty sure I do not have to question her."
Nighthawk looked at the ground. "It's obvious, isn't it?" He muttered.
"Yeah, it really is," Creektail purred. His whiskers twitched as he turned away.
Nighthawk took a second glance at Silverfur. He decided he wouldn't leave her alone in the medicine clearing, and he laid down and snuggled closer to her.
Nighthawk was surprised that he didn't wake Silverfur up in their slumber. He was restless all night.
Soon enough, it was almost sundown. Nighthawk sighed, relieved that he could wake Silverfur to check if she was alright.
He prodded her in the flank. She stirred and lifted her head drowsily.
"Silverfur?" Nighthawk mewed. Silverfur looked up at him.
"I feel better! Can you ask Flowerstem what she put on it?" Silverfur had her pleading eyes on. Nighthawk couldn't refuse.
"Flowerstem!" Nighthawk called. "What ointment did you put on Silverfur's wounds?"
Flowerstem sounded like she was mixing herbs."Ummm... that was marigold on her scratches, and honey. And I wrapped her shoulder in comfrey," her voice trailed away, and Flowerstem seemed unsure.
Flowerstem hurried out of the medicine den. "I am so sorry! I didn't know what to do with a dislocated bone, so I just did what I would do with a broken one!"
Silverfur snorted. "Don't be a Cinderpelt. It feels even better than yesterday!"
Flowerstem's eyes widened. "Sorry, gotta go!"
Nighthawk swiveled around. Amberfur and Starfoot stood close together, fur brushing. Gingertail was arguing with Creektail. Dapplepelt, the elder, was licking her paws but stopped to listen to the news. Sunclaw stepped forward at the sound of Stemstar's voice.
"There was a badger."
Plaintively, Silverfur's jaw dropped.
Flowerstem slinked away. She knew something. Nighthawk didn't know what, but something.
"Come with me!" Nighthawk hissed to Silverfur.
"What!" Silverfur glared at him.
Nighthawk pointed his muzzle towards the entrance of camp. "Flowerstem. She knows something."
"Yeah," Silverfur sighed. Her eyes brightened. "Shortcut?" She asked hopefully.
Nighthawk purred. "Creektail said-"
He cut off. "You know, let's just go."
Silverfur cast a worried glance at Starfoot and Amberfur. She sighed. "They must be so scared! Having kits so close to Leaf-bare and there being a badger on the loose?"
Nighthawk looked away. If his hunch was correct, Silverfur might be more worried about herself than Amberfur's kits.
Silverfur hopped up into the tangle of branches above camp and stopped for him. "You'd better get a move on, or else she'll be gone fast,"
Nighthawk jumped into the branches and followed Silverfur, watching her lithe figure move and got mesmerized in the sight of her beautiful fur.
"I can see her! She's over there!" Her tail twisted around to point to a pelt of orange tabby fur.
Nighthawk quieted her and held her tail down. "Jump down, and stalk her until she goes into a secreted area. We question her then."
Silverfur purred. She caught Nighthawk's gaze and silenced.
She leapt down into some heather. Nighthawk jumped down after her. Silverfur crept towards a holly bush. Nighthawk caught a glimpse of Flowerstem padding into a shadowed clearing in the forest.
"Follow her," Nighthawk ordered in a whisper. They walked through the holly bush and crouched beside the clearing. Flowerstem looked around.
"Mouse dung!" Silverfur spat. "She can scent us!"
"Go out. We can ask her, she'll tell us."
Silverfur took a deep breath and smiled. "You know already, don't you?"
"Shhh!" But Nighthawk smiled too.
Silverfur stepped out of the bush. Nighthawk rolled clumsily out and bowled into Flowerstem.
"Sorry!" He mewed, spitting orange fur out of his mouth.
Flowerstem purred. "No harm done," she meowed.
Silverfur tried to keep her face straight. "What are you hiding from us?" Silverfur badly stifled a laugh.
Flowerstem cocked her head. "I thought you knew!"
"Knew WHAT?" Silverfur groaned.
Nighthawk's ear twitched.
Flowerstem kneaded her paws into the ground. Her tail twisted and whirled uncomfortably.
"Silverfur and Nighthawk," Flowerstem paused. "You... you two are... Silverfur is going to have kits."
Silverfur's paws worked faster than her mind. Before her brain could register what she was doing, Silverfur's claws were sliding out and she was climbing into camp.
She could smell Nighthawk behind her. It didn't smell like he was surprised. It smelled... like fear... mingled with pride and relief.
She climbed the branches and dropped into camp. Silverfur didn't want to leave the warmth of the warriors' den and go live with Gingerfur. She wanted to stay right where she slept. Next to Nighthawk in the warriors' den with the welcoming smells of her clanmates.
It felt like only moments ago that Silverfur had been a scrawny apprentice. She wasn't ready to be an expectant queen. She loved Nighthawk, but she wasn't ready. Not at all.
She saw a flash of brown fur, and Silverfur turned around. Amberfur was standing next to her.
"You're worried about something," Amberfur lifted her muzzle and sniffed. "You smell different. Different than I know you."
Silverfur resisted the urge to blab everything to her old friend.
"Oh, that would be right," Silverfur searched her mind desperately for something that would sound okay. "I feel more responsible now that I am a warrior..."
Silverfur felt bad lying to her friend. But Silverfur had decided. She had made her mind up. She didn't want kits just yet, so she wasn't going to tell anyone.
Nighthawk came up behind her and laid his tail gently across her neck. Silverfur was instantly comforted and forgot her problem.
Amberfur flicked her tail at Nighthawk's face. "Come with me, Silverfur."
Silverfur looked back at Nighthawk. "Sorry! Can't help it!" She mouthed to him.
Amberfur crouched. "Is there something going on with you and Nighthawk?" She mewed.
Silverfur's tail swayed. "Ummm, yes," she closed her mouth.
Amberfur smiled. "I miss you. I'm glad that you might be coming to help me get through Leaf-bare with company."
Silverfur blinked. "Don't tell." She meowed. Amberfur cocked her head as Silverfur took a deep breath. "I'm expecting his kits!
Amberfur squealed. "That is AMAZING!" She hopped up and down. "Thanks for the company," she added as she padded into the nursery.
The clan glanced at Silverfur as she followed after Amberfur. Silverfur smiled as Creektail's jaw dropped.
Nighthawk looked at her, then ran to catch up and he walked beside Silverfur into the nursery.
Gingertail was inside the dark nursery. She yawned as she saw Amberfur, and closed her mouth as Silverfur squeezed through the entrance.
"Hello!" Gingertail cast a glance at Silverfur. "Welcome to the queens' den!" She made a sly grin.
Amberfur wiped her tail over Gingertail's mouth. "Don't listen to her," she meowed. "Gingertail is... basically a rogue when it comes to being a queen. She thinks that we are a group of rogues."
Silverfur purred a little. Nighthawk came in, and Gingertail glared at him.
"Get out, private conversation!" Gingertail said.
Amberfur turned on her. She whispered something in Gingertail's ear. Gingertail stifled a little 'oh', and looked up at Nighthawk.
"Oh, sorry. Join the party," Gingertail looked away. "But never come back!" She hissed quietly to Amberfur.
Amberfur rolled her eyes. "I'm not even trying anymore." She mewed plainly.
Nighthawk dipped his head towards Amberfur and Gingertail. He backed out of the nursery.
"I forgot!" Amberfur twirled around once. "You have no nest!"
She whisked out of the nursery. Gingertail sighed.
"Glad she's gone, you too?"
Silverfur opened her mouth. She didn't say anything.
"Silverfur!" A muffled voice called from outside. "Get out here and help me!"
Silverfur pushed out of the nursery and into the warm sun. "I'm here," she replied.
Amberfur had moss spilling out on each side of her neck. Moss and bracken were piled in front of her.
"Oh," Silverfur hurried and picked up the bracken in her jaws.
Gingertail was waiting for them inside the nursery. "What TOOK you so long?"
Amberfur snorted and laid down the moss. "Take it away," she mewed.
Silverfur flattened out the bracken lying at her paws. She seized a mouthful of moss and lined the bracken with it. She stuffed some moss in the cracks.
She flopped down into the nest gratefully. "Thank you," she breathed. Silverfur blinked at Amberfur, and fell asleep.
Silverfur was shaken awake by a glittering black pelt. "Silverfur!" It said. "Up!"
Nighthawk grabbed her scruff and dragged her out of the nursery.
"Technically, you're still a warrior. So get out here and do a border patrol!" Nighthawk twitched his whiskers.
Silverfur padded over to her father. "Umm... border patrol?"
Creektail smiled. "You're worried. But chances are that your kits will be born in Newleaf. Yes, border patrol."
Silverfur sighed. She headed out with the border patrol.
Once out of camp, Silverfur took a deep breath, inhaling the crisp morning air. Starfoot looked at her with sympathy.
"We're both concerned. I hope that you'll be there for Amberfur when the time comes."
Leopardheart fell back to pad beside Silverfur. "I can remember my first batch of kits. It was fine, and afterwards, I instantly fell in love with them."
Silverfur nodded. "Greentail and Harepelt. You must be so proud."
Leopardheart puffed out her chest. "You bet I am,"
Silverfur purred as she ran to catch up with the rest of the patrol.
Waterfur was swatting at Starfoot's face with her paw. "Shadowclan border, mouse-brain!"
Starfoot hung his head. "I know, Waterfur,"
Oakpaw tried to scold her mentor with her claws. "He was doing fine until YOU took the lead!" She meowed.
Waterfur pushed the young apprentice off of her with a single claw.
Skypaw hurried over to her and both tiny cats pounced on her tail.
"Skypaw and Oakpaw!" Waterfur roared. Silverfur purred and wrapped her tail around the apprentices.
They started marking their territory.
Silverfur was worn out in a few moments. Work was hard even when she was early in pregnancy.
The patrol headed back towards the camp, and the apprentices were begging persistently for badger rides.
"My goodness!" Silverfur exclaimed. "Get on already!"
Leopardheart rolled her eyes and stared at Harepelt. "But no wonder where they got it from. One of 'em was taught by my son!"
Oakpaw purred. "Sorry!"
Silverfur winced as little claws dug into her pelt. She smiled. One day she would be the mother of cute things like these, and then she might as well be the queen of the world.
Silverfur and the rest of the patrol ran into camp with Skypaw and Oakpaw chasing them. Silverfur reared up and cuffed a playful paw over Skypaw's ear. She picked him up by the scruff and threw him over her head and onto her back.
"Go on little one," she mewed as she nudged Skypaw to the apprentices' den. He hurried into it and slammed into his nest.
Silverfur laughed. "Hey, that used to be my nest!" She stomped over to him and snuggled close to him. Enough that she was almost on top of him.
"Oof!" He made a muffled mew. "You're squashing me!"
Silverfur got up, and left him to sleep. As for her, Silverfur was quite tired herself.
She climbed into her nest in the nursery, but she couldn't sleep. Nighthawk wasn't there, and it was hard to sleep without him. Especially now that she was expecting his kits
As the sun started to set, Silverfur finally gave up and sat up in her nest. "Mouse-dung," she muttered, and she walked out of the den. The moon was almost halfway up.
She made her way to the warriors' den.
Silverfur peeked inside the dark hole. Nighthawk was-mouse-dung- near the back of the den. Harepelt was snoring loudly, and Whitepelt was sprawled out in her nest. At least some of the senior warriors, like Leopardheart and Spotfur, were nicely curled up in a tight ball.
"Thanks!" Silverfur muttered sarcastically as Whitepelt kicked Silverfur's stomach. "Ouch."
Starfur was circling in his nest. "Hello. Can't sleep?"
Silverfur nodded reluctantly. "I was... uh.. getting Nighthawk,"
Starfur nodded. "Yeah, if I could lie next to Amberfur, I would sleep soundly!"
Silverfur forced a smile. She tiptoed over to Nighthawk's nest. "Nighthawk! Nighthawk!" Silverfur's mews didn't wake him up.
Silverfur poked him with a claw and he jerked awake.
"Bad dream?" She asked.
Nighthawk closed his eyes. "No, you?"
Silverfur shook her head. "Can we walk together? Outside camp?"
Nighthawk opened his eyes. "Oh. Maybe, but only if you beat me to the entrance!"
Quickly, he darted out of his nest and tripped on Whitepelt's tail. He thumped onto the ground beside her. Silverfur pranced over to him and gave him a quick kick on the flank. She pranced away.
"Okay!" She sped up as Nighthawk stood on his shaky legs. He ran after her. "Oh."
Nighthawk was at her heels. "Eek! I'm expecting kits! Why?" He mocked.
Silverfur slowed a little. She breathed heavily as she neared the tunnel entrance.
She flopped down onto the ground.
"Errm..." Nighthawk sniffed at Silverfur. "Maybe we shouldn't have ran so fast,"
Silverfur got to her paws. "Yeah," she shook her head, amused. "Good thing we're going for a walk,"
Nighthawk purred as they pushed through the tunnel side by side. The air was getting colder outside every night. It was usual, but Silverfur was worried. Amberfur had been expectant for at least four moons, and Silverfur knew she was close to kitting.
Silverfur sighed as she realized that she might have the same dreadful fate as Amberfur.
The trees swayed in the weight of the wind. Silverfur resisted the urge to tackle Nighthawk and get up one first. Instead, she lowered her haunches, preparing to jump. The branch jerked sideways, and Silverfur took her chance as it came closer.
She leaped into the air. Silverfur scrambled at the bark, slowly losing her grip. "Nighthawk!" She grunted.
"I'm right under you!" His reassuring mew was almost swept away by the strong wind.
Silverfur managed to pull herself up and over the branch, but had to hold on tight and that took most of her energy. Nighthawk whimpered as she slipped the tiniest bit.
"I'm jumping!" She shouted over the wind.
Nighthawk looked at the ground. "Great," he muttered.
"Catch me!" She warned loudly as the wind pushed her off of the branch.
It was all a blur, but Silverfur felt a warm pelt under hers, she felt her breathing get heavy, and she felt the cold, hard ground. All in one moment, it seemed.
"Wow," Nighthawk meowed, barely audible. He twitched her ear. "Why is it always us when someone gets hurt?"
"I'm not hurt!" She growled.
Nighthawk smiled and stepped back. "She-cats first!"
Silverfur rolled her eyes and took the lead. "How about a less... crazy!- tree next time!"
Nighthawk purred and rested his pure black tail on the silver tufts of fur left on her shoulder.
"Come on-" Silverfur was cut off by a loud screech coming from camp.
Silverfur's eyes held fear as she stared at Nighthawk's. "Amberfur's kits are coming." She meowed, and dashed back into the forest.
Flowerstem's grim face that greeted them at camp told them that Amberfur's kitting was not going well. Silverfur padded cautiously towards the nursery.
Starfoot was licking Amberfur's head, and he sat up briskly. "Help me," he murmured.
Amberfur looked like she was in pain, but her eyes were warm. "Silverfur," she croaked. "Water!"
Starfoot swiveled around and pushed Nighthawk aside.
"Wha-" Nighthawk gave him a glare and Starfoot mouthed apology.
Amberfur groaned. Silverfur looked worriedly her way.
Flowerstem nudged her way through Nighthawk and Silverfur. "Amberfur," she scooped the kitting queen under her paw. "We have to go to the medicine den!"
Amberfur grunted as she got to her paws.
The two she-cats walked out of the den and the light of the moon shone on Nighthawk's face. His features were outlined with white brightness, and Silverfur wanted to have the camp for their self.
A dark shape loomed towards them as they got closer.
"Gingertail!" They scolded in unsion. Nighthawk glanced at Silverfur, and they started purring.
Gingertail snickered. She turned towards the entrance and left the mates in peace.
Silverfur and Nighthawk had the (whole) nursery to themselves. Nighthawk yawned and plopped down in Gingertail's nest. Silverfur sat in her own.
"Glad SHE'S gone!" Silverfur mewed, satisfaction filling her tone.
Nighthawk cocked his head slightly and Silverfur shook her head. "Inside joke. I mean, now it is!"
"Yeah..." Nighthawk murmured.
He set his head on Silverfur's flank, and Silverfur, worn out, was out cold in only moments.
She woke as the sun filtered through the camp. Nighthawk drowsily rolled onto his back and kicked Silverfur's ear.
Silverfur rolled her eyes and stretched. Starfoot was outside of the nursery, smiling.
Silverfur squeezed out, and Starfoot turned to her.
He took a deep breath and cleared his throat, as if he were about to begin a speech. "It took all night, but me and Amberfur share a daughter and two sons!"
Silverfur's jaw dropped. "That's amazing! Have you named them?"
Starfoot shook his head. "Amberfur wanted you and Nighthawk to help decide."
Silverfur hurried to the medicine den. Amberfur was in there, lapping at some wet moss. Flowerstem looked relieved, but exhausted.
Three kits sat suckling at Amberfur's stomach. The she-cat was amber-colored. One of the young toms was somewhere between light gray and tan. The last tom was a beautiful mix. He was a light brown, just like his mother. He had spots of grays that looked like twoleg things.
Silverfur smiled. The she-kit was an obvious example. "The one that looks like you- amber- should be called Acornkit,"
Starfoot and Amberfur exchanged glances. Amberfur nodded. "That's a nice name."
Nighthawk stepped in. "The light brown tom with spots looks like a Shrewkit!" He gave a little smile.
"Yes, he looks like a Shrewkit," Starfoot purred.
"Amberfur, we'll let you name the other tom," Silverfur dipped her head and backed out of the medicine den.
She nuzzled Nighthawk as he came out. She looked at the sky for a moment. Glancing at Nighthawk, she meowed gratefully. "One day we'll have kits, and we can have them all to ourselves."
Cold air woke Silverfur up. She was alone in the nursery, and there were... stars! Stars were gathering outside of the nursery. Silverfur got up. Or at least tried to.
It felt as if her paws were glued to the ground. She couldn't move anything but her head. Silverfur grunted.
A dark gray pelt flashed with the stars. Silverfur twisted and turned but couldn't.
"Hello," the cat said. "I am Graypelt."
"My Starclan!" Silverfur exclaimed.
Graypelt smiled. "More like I AM Starclan."
Silverfur gaped and looked away. "Graypelt..." Silverfur suddenly felt a jolt in her body. "You sound familiar!"
Silverfur tried to ignore the tingling in her paws. "My mom's friend... her mom... I KNOW you!"
Graypelt smiled again and mewed softly. "Follow me." Her voice was plaintive.
Silverfur opened her mouth and almost said she couldn't move, but she felt her tail twitch, as if beckoning her to run after the old she-cat.
She lifted a paw and sniffed. She caught up with Graypelt.
She gasped. It wasn't camp. The starlight filled a hollow made of sticks weaved in and out. The moonlight was blocked by an overlapping tree. Graypelt sighed as if this was her home.
"Silverfur," Graypelt began. "I can already see your age. You won't live a long enough life. I am here to help you."
Silverfur scowled. Why should she believe any of this?
"Show me then." Silverfur puffed out her chest as if this solved everything.
Graypelt widened her eyes. "Do you not believe me?"
Silverfur opened her mouth.
"Fine." Graypelt turned around and started out of the enclosed hollow. "If you don't care..."
Silverfur rolled her eyes at the dumb old cat (or she thought) and ran after her.
"Come on! I believe you! I just..." she trailed off.
Graypelt turned to face her. "I knew you would give in," she smiled.
Silverfur sat down expectantly.
Graypelt stared at the open sky. "If you don't care, I know who will."
Silverfur dumbfounded, stammered. "No, not-not h-him!"
"Nighthawk deserves to know your fate," Graypelt announced.
"No he doesn't! It is a horrible thing to know when you die or... unsuccessful things! Even I don't want to know!" Silverfur howled, tears streaming down her stricken face.
Silverfur closed her eyes and wished she was in the nursery again.
Graypelt flicked her with her tail. "Wake up!" The old cat snapped. "This is the real world! Live in it!"
Silverfur whimpered at Graypelt's scold. "But..."
"No buts!" Graypelt meowed fiercely.
Silverfur nodded, still looking at the ground.
Graypelt looked satisfied. "Go back to the real world now. Say hello to Stemstar for me." She winked, and Silverfur woke up.
Silverfur sat up. It was warmer outside.
A few moons had passed since Graypelt had visited her dreams.
Silverfur watched Acornkit pounce on her mother's tail. Amberfur rolled over and tucked her tail under her body.
Gingertail still slept in the nursery, though her kits had been made into apprentices. Silverfur had been expectant for quite a while, so she knew that she might have her kitting anytime.
She padded out of the crowded den, and headed towards the fresh-kill pile. Nighthawk was pacing around the clearing.
Nighthawk looked up as she winced in pain. "Silverfur! I'm going on a hunting patrol! See you later!"
Silverfur picked up a squirrel and brought it to a sunny spot.
Leopardheart sat down right next to her. "So, how's life?" She purred.
Silverfur rolled onto her back. "Tiring." She meowed.
The silver queen nibbled at her squirrel.
Leopardheart twitched her whiskers. "So, how close do you think you are to kitting?"
"Isn't that, like, a personal question, Leopardheart?" Silverfur chewed on a morsel of the squirrel.
Leopardheart shrugged. "Maybe. I mean, I was just asking."
Silverfur snorted. "Okay, why don't you ask Flowerstem if you're so anxious to know?"
Leopardheart nodded her head. "Sorry. I know that you really can't tell," she meowed quietly.
Silverfur got up and looked straight at Leopardheart. "I actually should go to Flowerstem," she mewed gratefully. "I've been having cramps."
Flowerstem was sunning herself outside of the medicine den. Silverfur poked her.
"What is it?" Flowerstem sighed, getting to her her paws.
"I'm having cramps, and I was wondering when I... might be kitting?"
Flowerstem chuckled. "Well, I wouldn't be able to know, but you gave me the key."
Silverfur cocked her head. "How?"
"Cramps." Flowerstem pointed to her stomach. "Does it hurt now?"
Silverfur shook her head.
"How long have you been in pain?"
"Maybe a quarter moon ago it started," Silverfur shook her head. "No. Longer."
Flowerstem's eyes widened in obvious delight. Silverfur twitched her tail awkwardly.
"You are close," Flowerstem turned around and padded into the medicine den.
"Oh-kaaay?" Silverfur took a look at Flowerstem. "Yeah, she's crazy." Silverfur muttered.
Silverfur settled in the nursery.
Acornkit sniffed at Silverfur. The little kit looked up at her. "Why are you here?" Acornkit snuggled deeper into her silver fur. "You don't have anything to do, except help mother!"
Silverfur purred. "Well, I'll have something to do soon," she glanced at Amberfur.
"Oh!" Acornkit raced back to her own nest and whispered something to her other littermates.
Silverfur smiled as she realized 'soon' meant sooner than she had thought.
Nighthawk was in camp when he heard a yowl, a cry of pain. Silverfur! His mind raced and he started creeping towards the nursery.
It was moonhigh, and the clan was sharing tongues. The shadows engulfed the camp, and the moonlight was hidden behind a bough of branches.
He darted into the nursery and looked to see Silverfur cowered over her nest.
She was gasping for breath. "She warned me!" She puffed and started clawing at the soft ground.
Nighthawk looked at her, extremely concerned. "Come with me!"
Silverfur toppled over and her body thudded against the floor.
Nighthawk rolled his eyes and grabbed the queen's scruff. He dragged her to the medicine den.
"Flowerstem!" Nighthawk yowled frantically. "Kitting!"
The ginger cat sneezed on the way out, like usual. She took a worried glance at Silverfur and dragged her the rest of the way.
Silverfur gave a groan of pain. Flowerstem hurried over to her herb supply.
She chewed some and swallowed it. She grabbed a pawful and scooped it next to her. She grabbed a different herb.
Nighthawk craned his neck to see which ones. "What did you use?"
Flowerstem whipped around. "Thyme and borage! What else do you need to know?"
She pawed a little black seed put of the herb crack, along with another leaf or two.
Flowerstem lashed her tail. "Burnet and poppy seed! No more questions!"
"Okay!" Nighthawk backed out of the nursery and went to Stemstar's den.
He escorted himself in and Stemstar glared at him.
"What does burnet do?"
Stemstar chased him outside of the den and snarled at him.
Nighthawk smoothed his fur. "My Starclan, what's the deal?"
Waterfur and a couple others were huddled in a group. "Not very long between kits these days!" She meowed cheerfully.
Flowerstem walked out of the medicine den with a drooped tail. And a stern look on her face. "Don't jinx it!" She snapped.
Creektail walked up to Nighthawk and his tail rested into its usual spot on Nighthawk's shoulder. "You are worried, concerned," Creektail was calm as he walked towards the exit of camp.
A white flower with a yellow middle brushed Nighthawk's flank. He jerked.
"Eat some," Creektail urged. "It will help."
Creektail strode over to the plant and picked a single flower off of the stem. He beckoned to Nighthawk, and Nighthawk took it.
Nighthawk tentatively took a bite. He instantly felt warm and his worries flew away. All unease and doubt was replaced by heartiness and optimism.
Creektail's eyes brightened and he spoke. "Chamomile." His mew sounded.
Nighthawk chewed a little more. "I understand, but you could have asked me first."
Creektail smiled and looked down, chuckling. "You would have said no."
Nighthawk purred. "My worries are fantasy now," he looked at the sky.
The moans had stopped from camp, and instead there was a panting, and a desperate plead for water.
"The kits!" Nighthawk dashed for camp, but instead ran into a holly bush.
Creektail sniffed his tail, which was lashing irrationally.
"Ouch!" Nighthawk meowed, his voice muffled. "Get me out!" He squealed.
He pushed out of the bush, licking tufts of uprooted fur.
"Silverfur!" He gasped for breath and this time walked to the camp.
They reached the medicine den and Nighthawk braced himself for being overjoyed.
Creektail blocked the entrance. "Get ready," he gave his words of wisdom. He flicked his tail. "No more chamomile."
Nighthawk nodded and nuzzled Creektail's head. "Thank you," he dipped his head and padded into the den.
"Silverfur?" He whispered.
Her lithe figure was sprawled out in the nest. Three kits lie in the curve of her belly.
"Nighthawk!" She squealed and almost got up.
Nighthawk hurried to her side and looked at the beautiful kits that he made. He started purring.
Silverfur pointed her long tail at two of them. "She-cats," She mewed. "Tom."
Nighthawk admired the she-kit. It had a shiny blue-silver pelt and icy crystal eyes.
The other she-kit was propped up against Silverfur. She was a mossy-green, and her amber eyes were shockingly beautiful.
The tom was suckling already. His white pelt was spoiled with blotches of black fur, and his paws were all silver. Nighthawk's handsome features had been passed down, and this little tom-kit had huge yellow eyes.
"Oh Nighthawk thank you I love you so much help me with these beauties!" Silverfur sputtered, out of breath.
Nighthawk purred and scooped up the shiny-blue she-kit. He nudged it towards her brother. She instantly started to suckle.
The mossy kit tripped over his tail and Nighthawk gently swept her to Silverfur. She suckled and Nighthawk backed out of the quiet medicine den.
Flowerstem went in and murmured to Silverfur. "Eat some more borage," she said. "It will give you milk."
Nighthawk sighed dreamily and sat down next to the nursery.
Spotfur walked over to him. "It's amazing, isn't it?" He sat down.
It took Nighthawk a minute to register what he was saying. "Oh yeah, I've never felt anything like it."
Spotfur cocked his head. "Flowerstem ate some herbs when Amberfur kitted. It seemed weird."
Nighthawk recalled. "Yeah, she did!" He mewed. "That is just wrong!"
Spotfur laughed. "She told me that burnet would help Amberfur, and I was trained with the rest..."
Nighthawk smiled. "Can you tell me what burnet does?"
Spotfur nodded. "Mostly, it gives the queens strength. I guess she had to give it to Amberfur, because poppy takes away some strength."
Nighthawk nodded. "I had poppy once. I slept till sun-high!"
"Flowerstem probably used thyme," Spotfur meowed. "It washes away worries, and it's good for shock."
"That's what Flowerstem used then! She was scared, so she ate some!" Nighthawk murmured.
Spotfur widened his eyes. "You're right!" He turned a circle. "Good job,"
"She used 'borage'," Nighthawk sniffed.
"Borage helps the queens produce milk."
"Alright..." Nighthawk thought. "Chamomile."
Spotfur puffed out his chest as if his profession was telling warriors what chamomile did.
"Heartens the mind, clears mind of worries, makes you feel heartier inside... blah blah blah..." Spotfur looked surprised for a moment. "Makes you fall in love, sometimes."
Nighthawk twisted his tail with concern. Now he was scared. What if the only reason he loved Silverfur was because he had a bite of chamomile?
"How?" Nighthawk demanded.
Spotfur looked glad. "Well, it makes you feel love... erm... a little more strongly."
Nighthawk purred with relief. "Good."
Silverfur laid her head down. She was too exhausted.
Nighthawk walked in and touched his muzzle to each of the kits' head. He crossed his paws and laid down. "When are we naming them?"
Silverfur lifted her head. "Now." She insisted.
"The boy?" Nighthawk asked. Silverfur nodded.
"You know, I like Skykit as a name," Silverfur yawned, and Nighthawk couldn't refuse.
"Okay!" Nighthawk smiled. "How about the silver she-kit?"
"You pick-" Silverfur coughed and looked away.
Nighthawk turned the little kit over. "I like Troutkit, because she looks like a fish."
Silverfur looked at the moss-colored one and instantaneously spoke. "Mistkit."
Nighthawk locked solemn eyes with the cat he loved. "Yes." He mewed without hesitation.
Silverfur gasped as she got up. The kits didn't stop suckling. Nighthawk gently pulled each one off. He put Skykit on his head and held the other two by the scruff in his jaws.
"Be careful!" Silverfur growled. "I love them more than anything else!"
Nighthawk purred. "I thought you loved ME more than anything else!"
"Nope, it's them now," Silverfur admitted, flicking him with her tail.
Mistkit mewled at them.
"Aha, I feel the love here," Nighthawk meowed wistfully.
Mistkit fell out of Nighthawk's mouth. "I will walk myself!" She mewled. Her squeaky voice rang around camp.
The calico elder padded up to Mistkit and crouched down. "Hello little one," Dapplepelt meowed softly. "What a mighty big meow you have."
Dapplepelt stood back up and whispered to Nighthawk. "She looks very confident," she licked Skykit, who Nighthawk was balancing still on his head. "Very good batch."
Silverfur nodded thankfully. "Thank you."
Dapplepelt smiled awkwardly and went back into the elders' den.
Troutkit landed on her sister and they toppled onto the grassy ground in the middle of the clearing. "Troutkit!" Mistkit meowed.
Troutkit got up and spat green fur out of her mouth. "Sorry! Daddy should have held me better."
Even Skykit glared at Nighthawk, and Nighthawk cowered back.
"Don't blame it on your father!" Silverfur scolded fiercely. "Both of you wriggled out on purpose!"
Troutkit looked at the ground. "Sorry," she mumbled.
Silverfur licked Nighthawk's cheek. "They're kits," she whispered. "Little ones always misbehave..."
Her voice trailed off as Skykit leaped off of Nighthawk and landed next to his sisters.
Silverfur purred. Nighthawk looked at Silverfur, awed.
"That was amazing, Skykit!" Mistkit told him. Troutkit nodded vigorously.
Skykit fluffed out his fur. "It wasn't THAT amazing!" He mewed.
Nighthawk nodded. "Leave him be," he offered.
Skykit looked at his father. He climbed back onto him. "Thanks," he meowed.
"No problem," Nighthawk murmured.
"Mama!" Mistkit called. She got lost in a bought of coughing.
Skykit rushed to her side, and the fog parted. "Silverfur!" He shouted.
Nighthawk searched frantically for his cold kits.
Silverfur had Troutkit in her jaws. The outbreak of whitecough had caught onto each of her kits. Only Skykit was untouched.
"Mistkit!" Silverfur scolded. "You shouldn't be out in the cold!"
Nighthawk shook his head and padded towards the tiny kits.
He picked Mistkit up by her scruff. "Come on, Skykit," he muttered, his voice muffled.
Skykit trudged after him.
The nursery was empty, besides Nighthawk and Silverfur's family. Amberfur's kits had moved into the apprentices den. Gingertail had (finally!) went back to her rightful place. The warriors' den.
Flowerstem was waiting in the nursery. She got up at the arrival of Silverfur and the kits. "Hello!" She meowed.
Silverfur sneezed. "Thanks for the catmint!"
Mistkit pushed against her mother's fur. Troutkit nudged her.
Silverfur pushed Skykit forward. "Little toms first!" She meowed cautiously.
Flowerstem smiled and took Mistkit by the scruff. Mistkit mewled with fear. "Quiet, quiet. Eat the leaf."
Mistkit carefully took a shred of catmint with her trembling paws. She bit into it.
Silverfur knew she liked it. Mistkit just didn't like Flowerstem.
Mistkit stuffed the rest of it into her tiny mouth. She darted into the shadows like shoving away a bad dream.
Troutkit welcomed the catmint warmly.
Skykit stepped up on Silverfur's order.
Flowerstem shook her head. "He doesn't need it!" She growled.
Silverfur opened her mouth.
Flowerstem silenced her with a lash of her tail. "He isn't sick yet! So shut up and stop asking!"
She turned around and stomped out of the nursery.
Silverfur sat down. "Disgrace. My kit is prone to whitecough, and she does nothing about it!"
Skykit looked at the ground.
Mistkit fluffed out her fur. "Silverfur?" she mewed. "Why is it so cold?"
Silverfur's eyes widened. It was almost Greenleaf.
"Sleep. All of you." She commanded. "Nap time."
Skykit groaned, but Silverfur doubted he had anything better to do.
So they all laid down.
Graypelt whisked her tail over Silverfur's ear. Silverfur twitched it.
"There will soon be a time when you will mourn," Graypelt warned.
Silverfur lashed her tail. "Why can't you just tell me?" She asked.
Graypelt shook her head in amusement. "Your life would be planned out for you. It wouldn't be interesting anymore."
"Who will I mourn for?" Silverfur muttered. "Mistkit?"
"No," Graypelt meowed. "Mistkit has a long life ahead of her."
"But she has whitecough!" Silverfur protested. "The other kits are fine now!"
Graypelt said nothing.
"Fox-dung!" Silverfur cursed.
She opened her eyes.
Skykit was snuggled deep in between Nighthawk and Silverfur's bodies. Silverfur quickly checked his forehead. It was hot.
No! Silverfur thought.
She roughly picked him up and ran to the medicine den. Flowerstem was sleeping.
"Flowerstem!" She yowled. "Flowerstem!"
Flowerstem woke up suddenly.
Silverfur started. "Hot forehead! He had no symptoms!"
Flowersgem sprung into action. She touched Skykit's head lightly and got poppy seeds and catmint out. Tansy flew everywhere.
Silverfur was outraged. "This is your fault!" She screeched.
"Stop!" Flowerstem shouted. "If you want your son to live, then let me treat him!"
"What is it?" Silverfur whispered.
Flowerstem's bottom lip trembled. "Greencough."
Silverfur cried out. Greencough was the worst thing she could think of.
"Stop treating him." Silverfur breathed.
"What?" Flowerstem paused.
"Stop treating him." Silverfur said plainly. "He's going to die anyways,"
Flowerstem backed away. "Not if I can help it..." her voice stopped being enthusiastic as she realized this was a mother's choice.
Silverfur dragged his barely-alive body into the forest.
The cool air engulfed the mother and son.
"Goodbye, Skykit," Silverfur murmured. She felt his forehead again, and this time, the warmth was draining.
The lively scent of Skykit was quickly replaced by another. Instead it was an earthly smell. A smell that told Silverfur she wouldn't be seeing Skykit again.
Silverfur crouched down and stuffed her muzzle into the dead kit's soft fur.
"Starclan, help me."
Nighthawk padded into the medicine den, expecting to find his kit sleeping soundly.
Flowerstem slowly turned her gaze towards him. "Silverfur is outside."
Nighthawk gaped at the empty medicine den. He understood.
He put one paw in front of the other, slowly making progress towards Silverfur.
He watched his mate cower over Skykit, and he ran after her.
"Silverfur," Nighthawk soothed. "You'll see him again. But for now, he hunts with Starclan."
Silverfur shook her head and gently swept Skykit closer to her.
"Silverfur!" Nighthawk shouted. "This isn't like you!"
Silverfur opened her eyes wider. "You're right."
She firmly gripped Skykit in her jaws. Nighthawk started to purr.
"Stop that!" Silverfur snapped.
She dropped Skykit in the middle of camp. "Skyclan! A warrior has fallen!" Her yowl rang throughout camp, and everyone came out of their dens and started to mourn.
Amberfur picked several leaves off of a rosemary bush. Gingertail plucked a few lavender flowers. Silverfur hung her head as she went to a mint plant and sorrowly bit six leaves off.
The queens brought the herbs to the dead body and rubbed the scented plants into his fur.
Silverfur stopped rubbing when she ran out, and she laid her head down. "Goodbye, Skykit." She called.
"Goodbye, Skykit." The clan echoed somberly.
"Goodbye?" A tiny voice squeaked.
Silverfur lifted her head and saw Mistkit tilting her head.
Silverfur sat up and moved over so that Mistkit and Troutkit wouldn't see the dead lump of fur that was their brother. "Come." She mewed.
Mistkit jumped over to her mother and Troutkit looked lost as she walked to them.
"Mother?" Troutkit started. "Is Skykit..."
Silverfur almost boxed her ears.
But Mistkit already looked full of grief.
Silverfur nodded. "You won't play with him anymore," she meowed.
Mistkit's ears started to twitch. "But he told us he would take us hunting!" She hissed. "Which one of you killed him?" She circled Skykit's body, baring her teeth.
Silverfur stepped on Mistkit's tail. "Stop!" She growled. "Your brother died of greencough!"
Mistkit's sullen eyes flashed with anger. "I don't care!" She spat. "It was all Flowerstem!"
The clan gasped. Murmurs rose from the crowd of warriors.
Troutkit stepped forward. "Flowerstem didn't give Skykit herbs when he was sleeping with whitecough right next to him!" Troutkit told everyone, her tail quivering nervously. "Every other day, Flowerstem gave me and Mistkit catmint. She skipped Skykit, even though Silverfur told her not to."
Stemstar pushed through the cats. "Flowerstem!" She yowled, and the kits stopped talking.
Flowerstem's tabby pelt was slowly padding out of the medicine den.
Stemstar approached. "Why weren't you mourning?" She asked calmly.
Flowerstem lifted her muzzle into the air. "Because Silverfur made me stop treating him." She meowed. "I felt responsible for his death."
Her clanmates' eyes had already shifted towards the grieving queen.
Stemstar didn't even take a glance at Silverfur. "It was a mother's choice." She mewed. "Skykit probably would have just lived through misery, if Silverfur hadn't stopped Flowerstem."
Mistkit just stared at her mother. "Why?" She howled. "You killed him!"
Troutkit wrapped her tail around Mistkit. "He didn't want to live. Skykit just felt pain."
Mistkit looked at the sky and whispered something to Silverpelt.
Silverfur ran over to Nighthawk and nuzzled his cheek. "I'm sorry!" She cried quietly.
Nighthawk rasped his tongue over Silverfur's ear. "It's fine, it's fine. It's okay."
Mistkit sulked over to the nursery.
Silverfur laid down. Now her kits' apprentice days would be full of grief.
Nighthawk sat as the clan started to file back into their dens; night was beginning to fall.
"Silverfur," Nighthawk meowed. "I don't blame you."
Silverfur turned away.
"Silverfur," he repeated. "I mean it."
Silverfur stood up and whipped around, lashing her tail, but instead of seeing Nighthawk's round yellow eyes, Graypelt sat sorrowly in his place.
"Graypelt!" Silverfur yowled.
Graypelt let her tail droop to the ground.
Suddenly, fog misted around Silverfur's eyes and she couldn't see. For a few panicked moments, she writhed in blindness. When the fog cleared, her vision was still blurry. Then her eyesight got fuzzier and fuzzier until Silverfur couldn't see anymore.
And it wasn't the fog.
Silverfur pulled the young kit closer. Troutkit pawed at a moss ball and hit it towards Mistkit.
Mistkit wriggled out of Silverfur's grip and bounded towards it.
In the last moon, Silverfur had stayed in camp. She hadn't hunted, and she hadn't gone to the gatherings. Her grief had wrapped around her heart, something even goatweed couldn't help.
Nighthawk didn't have time to mourn. The prey was plentiful, but not plentiful enough for Shadowclan.
Silverfur nudged Mistkit deeper into the nursery, getting up.
She would be going out to patrol the Shadowclan border.
Mossclaw and Greentail were waiting at the entrance.
"Let's go!" Silverfur puffed.
Mossclaw shook her head. "We're still waiting for Sunclaw."
Memories poured into Silverfur's mind. Sunclaw teaching her to hunt, teaching her to patrol...
She pushed them away. Her life was different now.
Sunclaw came trotting up. "Sorry I'm late," he meowed. "Harepelt distracted me."
Greentail purred. "Harepelt is ALWAYS distracting EVERYONE!"
Mossclaw lashed her tail. "Let's move!" She whisked around and pushed her way through the camp entrance.
Silverfur snorted, but followed anyways.
As soon as she breathed in the crisp morning air, Silverfur instantly regretted staying in camp for a moon.
Mossclaw pushed her aside. The patrol headed for the border, and Silverfur and Mossclaw hung in the back.
"I haven't been able to talk to you this last moon. What's up?"
Silverfur looked away. "Well, my only tom died, my she-cats are cured..."
Mossclaw stared deep into her eyes. She rested her tail on Silverfur's shoulder. "I'm sorry," she mewed. "But you've got to move on."
Mossclaw stopped walking. "You're kits will be apprentices soon. You need to think about moving on. Nighthawk needs you."
Silverfur kept padding.
Mossclaw sighed and caught up with her. "I know you heard me."
Silverfur purred. "I know, too." She meowed. "Race you to the border!"
Mossclaw rolled her eyes. Greentail happily skipped forward, Sunclaw running towards Shadowclan border.
Sunclaw marked some bushes. Silverfur sniffed a tree. Fresh Shadowclan stench drowned out all Skyclan scents.
"I smell something!" Silverfur reported.
Greentail padded closer. "Yuck." She wrinkled her nose. "Shadowclan. It's fresh!"
Mossclaw growled. "Stay down." She ordered. "There's a patrol."
Silverfur crouched in the shelter of a tree's shadow. She saw Shadowclan, all right.
Seatail, the deputy, and Shrewfoot were working their way through Skyclan territory with a small apprentice.
Sealpaw sniffed. "I will never get used to Skyclan scent." She shook her head and turned back to the patrol.
"Well, you'll have to soon," Silverfur growled quietly. "Sunclaw, go back to camp and warn the others."
Behind her, Sunclaw nodded. He quietly stalked away.
"More!" Greentail hissed.
Silverfur slowly turned. There was a few more warriors speeding towards the Shadowclan patrol.
"Hurry up, Sunclaw!" Mossclaw whispered.
Silverfur picked Treetail out from among them, and she could recognize Grassheart, Rabbitfur, and Stumptail.
"Starclan, help us!" She breathed. This was an invasion!
"Greentail! Mossclaw! We need to get back!" Silverfur meowed. "It's an invasion!"
Mossclaw and Greentail exchanged a glance.
"Let's go then!" Mossclaw exclaimed.
Silverfur sped through the territory. They would beat Shadowclan; they weren't used to all of the criss-crossed trees and brambles.
As soon as Silverfur ran into camp, she burst out. "Invasion!" She sputtered. "Near the Shadowclan border! They're coming to camp!"
Stemstar stepped closer to her. "Sunclaw told us that there was a couple warriors at our border." She narrowed her eyes.
Silverfur gasped. "More came. Shadowclan's fiercest!"
Stemstar's eyes widened. "Sunclaw, don't take the patrol! Stay here and defend the camp!"
"Nighthawk!" Silverfur called. "Guard the nursery!"
Creektail caught her eye and cocked his head. Silverfur sheepishly licked her chest fur.
Creektail trotted up to her. "I think you may be deputy one day," he purred.
Silverfur ducked her head as her father tried to lick her. "Now's not the time, Creektail."
Creektail smiled and walked away, shouting orders here and there.
Silverfur spotted a pair of glinting eyes, and the eyes seemed to see her, too. They ducked away.
"They're here!" A fearful yowl rang through the battle-ready camp.
Silverfur hissed softly.
Claws ripped her pelt. She could scent Rabbitfoot's rank stench, and she coughed.
Silverfur quickly caught a glimpse of her clanmates fighting. She slashed her unsheathed claws over Rabbitfoot's muzzle, sending him toppling backwards.
Rabbitfoot skidded to a halt, and reared up. Silverfur's snarl curled into a smile. She knew this move.
She rolled to the side. She scratched his exposed belly as he flipped slowly across the clearing.
Silverfur snickered and pounced on top of the tom. Rabbitfoot cried in agony as Silverfur's teeth laid on his neck.
"Surrender," she growled threateningly.
He closed his eyes and lie limp. Silverfur bit down slightly.
"Don't!" He whispered. "I have a family. Please."
Silverfur released him. "Go back. Warn the other Shadowclan cats coming, because they won't win." She snarled. "Because we-" she paused for a quick victory laugh. "We have SkyClan's fiercest."
Silverfur crossed her paws. No serious injuries had occurred in the battle. At most, Flowerstem was treating a few warriors with marigold.
Nighthawk sat next to her. "Stemstar told me that Mistkit and Troutkit are ready," he mewed.
Silverfur purred. "For what?" She asked.
Nighthawk shook his head. "To be apprentices!" He said, confused.
Silverfur's eyes stretched open in disbelief. "Really?"
Nighthawk's yellow eyes twinkled with excitement. "I know they are." He puffed his chest out in pride. "There are a few new warriors, at the sound of it..."
Silverfur's glance shot towards the announcement tree.
"There are warriors I wish to welcome into this clan!" Stemstar yowled triumphantly. "Goldpaw! Oakpaw! Skypaw!"
"Do you all promise to uphold the warrior code and defend your clan even at the cost of your life?"
"I do!" Goldpaw screeched.
Oakpaw covered her ears. "Of course!"
"I do." Skypaw said calmly. Oakpaw looked skeptically at him.
Stemstar continued. "Starfoot, you did well training Goldpaw. Waterfur. You mentored Oakpaw. She is now a fine apprentice. Leopardheart, you were amazing at making Skypaw listen." She purred a little. "Now, all of you are warriors."
Skypaw whispered something to Goldpaw.
"Oakpaw! We appreciated your bravery in the recent battle with Shadowclan. You are now known as Oakwing!"
"Oakwing!" Beside her, Nighthawk called.
"Skypaw! You hunting skills impress us every day. You will now be known as Skyfall!"
Excited murmurs passed through Skyclan.
"And finally... Goldpaw! We all know that you are courageous and fierce. Hunting comes naturally to you. Battle comes naturally to you. Goldpaw is now Goldthrush!"
"Oakwing! Skyfall! Goldthrush! Oakwing! Skyfall! Goldthrush!"
Silverfur rubbed her muzzle against Nighthawk's. "One day those will be our kits." She whispered as quietly as she could over the chant, loud enough so Nighthawk could hear.
Nighthawk nodded vigorously.
◇ ♡ ◇
Silverfur licked roughly in between Mistkit's ears. Troutkit scampered around, kicking up dirt.
"Troutkit!" She mewed scoldingly. "Clean your fur again, and no more playing around!"
Stemstar was already perched on the tree, licking her paws.
Silverfur muttered and cleaned Mistkit's fur again.
"Your turn, fish!" Mistkit meowed teasingly.
Silverfur groaned. "Could you stop teasing your sister? She is NOT a fish!"
"Yeah, I am!" Troutkit pointed out proudly. "I'm a trout!"
Silverfur rolled her eyes. She licked her paw and started to wash herself.
Stemstar looked at her. She nodded and stood up. "Gather before me, Skyclan!"
Troutkit jumped up and turned a circle.
"Troutkit!" Silverfur hissed. "Get back here!"
Troutkit sat down obediently.
"There are kits that need to train. Troutkit!"
Troutkit looked up innocently.
"Your mentor will be Mossclaw." Stemstar announced. "Mossclaw is a fine warrior, so I expect you to be as well. You are now an apprentice, Troutpaw."
Troutpaw sneezed and rolled in the dirt. She sprang over to Mossclaw and touched her nose to hers.
Mossclaw flinched, then kept steady.
"Mistkit! Your mentor will be Whitepelt." Stemstar nodded towards her. "Mentor her well. Mistpaw!"
"Mistpaw! Troutpaw!" Silverfur cheered.
Nighthawk scurried up to her. He nuzzled her and sat down. "I'm so proud." He said, his eyes filling up. "I still can't register that I'm a father." He mewed weakly.
Mistpaw ran up to them. "Silverfur!" She meowed. "Do you know why isn't Skykit with us?"
Silverfur flinched as her daughter's eyes burned her pelt accusingly.
Nighthawk looked at the ground. "He is." He mewed quietly. "He's watching you."
Silverfur thoughtfully gazed up. A honeyed thorn pierced her heart as pride shimmered in her chest. Skykit was gone, but not really gone.
"Mistpaw, he knows you are an apprentice." Silverfur purred. "And can you guess who's taking care of him up in Starclan?"
Mistpaw's eyes rounded. "Who?" Her voice was soft.
Silverfur's mew cracked as she told Mistpaw and Troutkit. "Up there, my mother is looking after Skykit."
Nighthawk shot a warning glance at her. Silverfur glared back at him and he nodded.
Troutpaw tilted her head. "You had a mother, Silverfur?"
Mistpaw whisked her tail over Troutpaw's muzzle. "Yes, mouse-brain! Every cat has a mother!"
Silverfur gave a mrrow of laughter. "My mother's name was Mistpelt, and she was killed by a badger," she mewed sadly.
Mistpaw nudged Troutpaw and whispered something in her ear. They suddenly sat on either side of her and pushed their fur deep into her's.
Silverfur continued. "Mistpelt, me, and my sister were cuddled in the nursery one cold Leaf-bare night, when a badger ventured into camp through the nursery. It clawed a hole into the back, and stole my sister. Mistpelt woke me and the other queens up and told us to go into the clearing. She drove the badger from the nursery, but she didn't get it far from camp before it struck her down." Her voice trailed at the end.
Nighthawk sat wide-eyed at her side. "I really didn't think..."
Silverfur nuzzled him. "But I did." She turned around and headed instinctively towards the nursery.
"Silverfur!" A sharp call came from across camp. "You sleep with us again!"
Silverfur whipped around. Leopardheart was standing in front of the warriors' den.
Silverfur started walking. She then stopped dead in her tracks as she remembered Graypelt and the fog. Was it a prophecy? No. Silverfur wasn't special. She pushed the subject from her mind and walked again.
Leopardheart pushed her way into the den.
Silverfur inched her way through the entrance and circled in a nest near the middle.
"Hey!" Leopardheart purred. "You're not a senior warrior yet!"
Silverfur sat down and lifted her nose into the air. "Have I kitted?" She challenged. "Yes, I have!"
Leopardheart stifled a mmrow of laughter. "Alright, goody two-paws. Let's see who would win in a battle?"
Silverfur sighed. "Maybe tomorrow," she chirped. "I'm tired."
Leopardheart eyed her suspiciously. "You're never tired."
"Yeah, well I am now." She rolled over, crossing her paws. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," Silverfur heard a muffled grumble.
She closed her eyes.
Silverfur opened her eyes. All she saw was... nothing.
Silverfur tried again. Nothing.
"Leopardheart!" She clawed at the air blindly.
She heard a shuffling noise.
"What?" A frustrated meow came from next to her.
Silverfur grunted and stop thrashing at thin air. "I can't open my eyes!" She wailed.
Leopardheart snorted. "They ARE open!" She stopped breathing. "Is this a joke?"
"No!" Silverfur yowled. "I'm blind!" She tore moss off of her nest. Her voice lowered to a whisper, so that Leopardheart couldn't hear. "I knew the prophecy was important. Why didn't I listen, or even just talk to Flowerstem?"
"Come outside," Leopardheart begged. "Maybe you aren't blind! Maybe... maybe..."
Silverfur's nostrils flared. "I am!" She snapped. "I don't care if I am! I KNEW that this would happen, and I did nothing to help myself!"
Leopardheart SHHHHHHed her. "Be quiet," she soothed. "We don't want to wake anyone, especially before dawn."
Silverfur scraped the ground with her claws. She guessed that they left deep scours in the dirt, but she couldn't see them.
The fog was upon her. She could tell, and the thought left a horrible, bitter taste in her mouth.
Leopardheart twitched her whiskers.
Silverfur scrabbled to her paws. "Don't tell Nighthawk," she said. "Or my kits."
Leopardheart dipped her head. "You want to tell them yourself," she meowed. "Of course."
Silverfur shuddered. This wasn't real. It had to be a dream. Her breathing slowed.
I'll wake up soon, She thought reassuringly.
"I'm going to tell Stemstar," she mewed to Leopardheart. She rushed off to the leaders den.
"Stemstar!" She called in. "I need to tell you something."
Stemstar moaned. "What?"
Silverfur suddenly stopped. "Well, ummm..." she took a deep breath. "I think I've turned blind."
Stemstar let out a MROWW of laughter. "Silverfur! That was funny!"
Silverfur grunted with frustration.
"But still," Stemstar continued. "Why did you wake me-before dawn- to tell me this?"
Silverfur's voice came as a sob. "I'm blind!"
Silverfur could hear a shuffling noise as Stemstar padded out of her den.
"Really?" A mew almost scared Silverfur out of her fur.
"Yes!" She grunted through clenched teeth.
Somebody ran up to them. "Are you okay?" A familiar voice asked worriedly.
"No, Nighthawk," Stemstar replied for her. "She's not okay."
Nighthawk's scent finally reached Silverfur's nose. "Nighthawk?"
"Yes?" He answered hopefully.
She sighed. "I'm blind. Tell the kits."
She could hear Nighthawk stifle a gasp. "Al-alright," he paused. "Are you really?"
Silverfur nodded. She ran towards the warriors' den and ducked inside.
The throng of warriors was whispering. One gasped when Silverfur walked in.
"Are you really blind?" Someone blurted.
Silverfur stared blankly in their direction. "Yes, Whitepelt!" She snapped.
At that moment, she caught a flicker of light. She could see!
It looked light she was squinting, and she couldn't see colors.
Silverfur rushed out of the den. "Nighthawk!" She panted. He caught her gaze and held it. "I can see!"
Nighthawk bounded forward. "Yes?"
"No colors, and barely, but I can SEE," she explained.
Nighthawk nodded slightly, a smile forming on his face. "Go get some rest," he offered. "You must be tired."
Silverfur nodded. "But not really," she mewed. She yawned. "See you in the morning."
Nighthawk purred and wove around her. "You're going to sleep all day and all night?"
"Yup!" Nighthawk gave her a teasing glare. "What? I'm tired!"
Nighthawk purred even louder. "Goodnight, then."
Silverfur licked his muzzle. "Goodnight."
That day, while she was sleeping, Silverfur dreamt. Graypelt came to her.
"Do you understand?" Graypelt asked instantly.
"Why you tried to warn me?" Silverfur spat. "No!"
But Graypelt's eyes were calm as ever. "We thought you might have interpreted it sooner rather than later.."
Silverfur's eyes widened. "So it WAS a prophecy!"
Graypelt nodded. "The fog cleared, but your eyesight didn't." She cocked her head. "It was just blurry, right?"
"Not at first," Silverfur explained. "But after it was."
She sighed wistfully. "I miss climbing trees," she mewed sadly.
Graypelt smiled. "You've only been blind a few moments!" She laughed.
"No. I haven't been up in the trees for moons, with my kits, and expecting."
Graypelt returned her serious glare with another. "Let me tell you something important," she meowed gravely.
Silverfur sat. "Go on..."
Graypelt took a deep breath. She obtained a blank face, as if these words meant nothing. "YOUR EYESIGHT, YOUR VISION, IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE. NOTHING WILL HELP, NOT HERBS, NOR CAT, NOT EVEN A CURSE."
Silvefur took a step back after standing back up. "Another prophecy?" She mewed quizzically.
"Yes," Graypelt had a twinkle in her eye. "I made it."
Silverfur twitched her ear. "At least you told me it was a prophecy this time," she mewed, grumpily. "Unlike last time, and look what happened to me now!"
Graypelt just smiled, like usual.
"Soooo...." Silverfur carried on. "What does it mean?" She swiped a paw over her ear.
Graypelt sat there. After what seemed like moons, she answered. "I'm here to guide you through your StarClan-made life, not tell you the future, stupid furball!" She spat, her tail lashing irrationally.
Silverfur blinked, caught off guard by her lashing out.
Graypelt's eyes softened as she realized what she had said. "I'm sorry," she muttered quickly. "Forget every word I said!"
Silvefur twitched. It sounded more like a warning than an apology. She licked her paw and continued grooming casually, but really, Graypelt's words rang like bells again and again in her mind.
Certain words caught her attention. 'StarClan-made life', what did that mean? And why had Graypelt never told her what her future was like? What was she hiding?
Silverfur couldn't bear not knowing her future when Graypelt could. It was so unfair! Why should SHE know, and not her?
TOO MANY QUESTIONS! Her mind screamed. She sighed. She'd always been too keen, too fast to ask questions.
"Graypelt?" Silverfur asked hopefully. Graypelt gave a grunt. "What did you mean by 'StarClan-made life?"
Graypelt turned her head towards her, embarrassment coming off of her in waves. "Nothing!" She meowed quickly, dropping her gaze.
Silverfur swallowed a growl of annoyance. "I have the right to know, Graypelt!"
Graypelt huffed and rested her head on her paws, looking the other way.
Silverfur sat down angrily and instantly toppled sideways. A spasm gripped her- her eyes getting blurrier by the second.
The last thing she saw for quite a while was Graypelt's yellow eyes.
Silverfur stretched open her eyes. Sun pooled beside her, yellow as Nighthawk's huge eyes.
Her heart ached. Had she worried Nighthawk?
Silverfur tried to push herself into a sitting position, but she couldn't see enough that she could put her paws where they needed to be.
She sighed and flopped back down into the nest.
A sneeze came from somewhere to her right.
Silverfur pricked her ears at the sound. She was surprised that it echoed. That meant that she was in a cave.
The sneeze had been louder than Silverfur usually heard it. Maybe her ears were working better because her eyes had more faults. She twitched her ear in concern at the thought.
There was one thing, though. How had she become blind? Flowerstem ought to know.
"Silverfur!" A squeal came from beside her.
Silverfur turned to look, forgetting for a few moments she was blind. She sniffed the air. "Kits?" She mewed weakly.
"Who else?" Troutpaw snorted.
"Has Nighthawk come yet?" Mistpaw asked.
Silverfur shook her head. "Not that I know of," she said.
"I'll get him!" Mistpaw announced and dashed off, kicking dust into Silverfur's face.
Troutkit wove her body around Silverfur. "Are you okay?" She asked quietly.
Silverfur rested her head on her paws. "No, not really." She sighed. "I wish I could see you."
Troutkit settled beside her. "Of course you do!" She mewed. "I look beautiful."
Silverfur purred. "I love you," she meowed, purring deeply.
Troutkit snorted, then sneezed. "My nose hurts," she complained.
Silverfur shrugged Troutkit off. She sat up, feeling motherly again. "Where?" She demanded.
"Right here," Troutkit responded.
Silverfur dropped her half-blind gaze.
"Oh, Silverfur!" She cried, lunging forward to nuzzle Silverfur. "I'm sorry. I forgot."
"It's fine!" Silverfur insisted quietly.
Her tail drooped.
Silverfur dared to turn her head. Her throat choked up.
A lithe, black-furred tom was at the entrance, his large yellow eyes glittering with concern.
"N-Nighthawk..." Silverfur could barely choke the words out.
Nighthawk nodded and crossed the cove in one single leap, purring.
"I missed you," he meowed happily. He lowered his voice. "I just wish you weren't blind."
Silverfur blinked. "Where am I?" She asked, flicking her tail. She wanted to change the subject.
"Medicine den," he mewed quickly, as if eager to get back to his subject.
Silverfur let out a soft hiss, lashing her tail. "I should've guessed!" She scolded herself. "If my eyes stay as bad as this, I need my nose to WORK!"
Nighthawk nosed her. "Follow my scent when I call to you," he said. He got up and ran out of the medicine den.
Silverfur licked her paw and drew it over her ear, starting to wash.
"Silverfur!" A commanding call echoed around camp.
She sat up, alert, and slowly made her way out of camp, following Nighthawk's scent.
The trail wove through the twisted branches and Silverfur tripped over a root. She cursed and stumbled onto her paws.
As soon as the trail lead to the tall heather, Silverfur started to purr. She pushed her way through the heather joyfully and into the clearing where she had learned she was expecting.
She pressed her body against Nighthawk's pelt.
It was sunny in the clearing, and Silverfur splayed out on the leaf-strewn forest floor. Nighthawk hesitated, then flopped down beside her.
"Why did you take me here?" Silverfur rasped.
Nighthawk smiled and pulled her closer. "I felt sentimental," he mewed mischievously.
Silverfur let out a MROWW of laughter. "No, really."
She couldn't make out shapes, but her eyes were good enough that she could recognize the glare of the sun.
Nighthawk's eyes softened. "It all happened so fast." He said dreamily. He twitched. "Stemstar told me that Troutpaw and Mistpaw are about ready to take their warriors' assessment."
Silverfur sank lower into the leaves and continued to purr contentedly.
She and Nighthawk shared tongues and fell asleep in the leaves.
Silverfur cheered her heart out beside Nighthawk.
The chant died down and the clan cats filed out of the clearing.
Mistfur dashed to her parents. "I can't believe I'm a WARRIOR!" She squealed, turning an excited circle.
Pride shimmered in Silverfur's chest. Nighthawk licked Troutstream's ear.
She ducked and scowled. "Father, I'm a WARRIOR now!"
Silverfur felt a dull pain in her stomach. She glanced down and discovered that her flanks were swelling.
WHAT? Silverfur thought. IT CAN'T BE!
She drew her gaze up towards her kits slowly.
Silvefur sighed. "Congratulations on becoming warriors," she mewed halfheartedly and turned towards the warriors' den.
She curled up in her nest. Whitepelt sat down next to her. "How's it going?" She asked.
"I don't know," Silverfur admitted. "My life is confusing."
Whitepelt doubled over with laughter. When she recovered, she mewed. "That wasn't the answer I was expecting!" She laughed again.
Silverfur stormed out of the den.
"Silverfur!" A cry came from the entrance to camp.
Stemstar bounded into the clearing.
Panting, she began. "We ran into ShadowClan," she paused. She hissed. "On OUR side of the border.
Silverfur's face contorted with rage. SkyClan could not let ShadowClan think they could cross their markets whenever they wanted.
She trembled as she spoke. "They cannot keep doing this!" Silverfur hissed. "We need words with their leader!"
Creektail walked towards the two she-cats. "Not- not Darkstar?"
Silverfur turned to face him. "Yes, Darkstar! Who else?"
Creektail hung his head, embarrassed to be scolded by his own daughter.
"Sorry," Silverfur grumbled her apology his way. "I'm just so angry."
Stemstar dipped her head. "We all are." She flicked her tail. "Just, some of us are too scared."
Creektail padded closer and sat down, swishing his tail. "I do have an announcement to make," he mewed.
The Clan pricked their ears.
"Go on." Stemstar beckoned.
Creektail licked his paw and drew it over his ear. "I am old," he started. "And I have decided to step down as deputy and life the rest of my life as an elder."
Silverfur widened her eyes, though it didn't make much of a difference. "No!" She cried. "You cannot!"
"For the last time, Silverfur, you cannot stop deputies from becoming elders."
Stemstar laid her gaze on Silverfur.
Silverfur nodded reluctantly and sat next to Creektail.
"Silverfur!" A voice called from the other side of the clearing.
Silverfur turned by instinct. "Who is it?"
"It's Flowerstem," she meowed. "Come let me check on your eyes."
Silverfur opened her mouth to object, but thought better of it and shrugged.
Flowerstem took her and Silverfur was instantly overwhelmed by the scents of herbs and plants.
Silverfur resisted the urge to blink when Flowerstem opened her eye and trickled juice into it.
"I hate this," Silverfur mewed bitterly.
Flowerstem pulled the leaf away from her eye and shook her head. "I don't care."
Silverfur blew the air out of her lungs. Could she hate any medicine cat more than Flowerstem?
Well, she was going to find out.
Silverfur trudged along beside Nighthawk, purring with content as Troutstream and Mistfur padded ahead, whispering.
Nighthawk nudged his white mate.
Silverfur cast out her senses and discovered that her Clan was already filing over the tree-bridge.
She tentatively set a paw on the trunk. When it hit the hard, gnarled wood, she recoiled, frightened.
Nighthawk sighed and leaped onto the tree, twining his tail with hers. He stepped across and she followed.
After seemingly a Leaf-bare and a half, Silverfur and Nighthawk were on the island.
Troutstream and Mistfur were already racing towards WindClan, and Silverfur let out a mroww of amusement at what she could see.
Nighthawk guided her away, steering towards the elders group.
Silverfur let out an appalled hiss and backed away. "Nighthawk, we are not elders!"
Nighthawk hung his head and exhaled sadly.
"Silverfur, there's something I've been meaning to tell you."
Nighthawk shifted his paws. "I talked to Stemstar, and we both agree-" he paused. "We both agree that it is time that you become an elder."
Silverfur's tail drooped involuntarily before she registered what Nighthawk had said.
Silverfur scoffed. "Nice one," she mewed to the side as she padded on.
Nighthawk ran after her. "Silverfur!" He urged. "I'm serious!"
Silverfur stopped dead in her tracks. "No," she breathed. She turned to him.
Nighthawk returned her gaze guiltily.
Silverfur stared. "You, out of all cats, don't understand that I have to be a warrior." She mewed angrily. "You, of all cats."
She turned away and hared the other way.
Silverfur wanted to talk to Flowerstem.
She snorted. For once.
But as soon as she set her ulterior motive, Breezestar began to speak.
"Cats of all Clans!" The light blue she-cat yowled. "WindClan has two new kits thanks to Treetail and Shellclaw; Pricklekit and Marrowkit!"
Silverfur held her cheering.
The WindClan leader dipped her head at Noblestar of ThunderClan.
The broad tom cleared his throat. "ThunderClan had trouble with a fox family, but we chased it off, up toward the ridge." He wrinkled his nose as he gave a smile to Stemstar. "You might want to watch out for them."
Stemstar nodded. "Fair warning." She mewed to him. "SkyClan has two new warriors. Welcome to SkyClan, Troutstream and Mistfur!"
Cheers exploded and though Silverfur didn't feel like it, she cheered anyways.
Stemstar continued. "A warrior has retired to the elders den-" at this, Milkyeye, Deadtail, and Dapplepelt (the elders of the Clans), meowed in happiness. "Silverfur!"
There were no cheers.
Murmurs, though, sounded skeptically.
"Silverfur is barely older than me!"
The fur along Silverfur's spine stood on end.
Her eyes made their way to Stemstar's.
The pinkish she-cat flattened her ears.
Silverfur, fur bristling, jumped onto the Great Oak, teeth bared.
Mossclaw and Greentail were staring with wide eyes. "Don't fight! You'll break the truce!"
Silverfur forced her fur to lie flat and cracked her jaws.
Fear was coming off of Stemstar in waves.
"I am not retiring yet, neither has anyone consulted me about this matter." She took a deep breath. "I know that my blindness affects everything, but it really doesn't. I will continue hunting, patrolling, and fighting."
Stemstar gasped. "Silverfur, I never meant to-"
"Save it," Silverfur growled, and leaped off of the tree.
Mossclaw ran up to her. "Great move!" She mewed sarcastically. "Now the whole of the Clans know that you're blind!"
Greentail nodded cautiously, glimpsing Silverfur's still-annoyed face.
Mossclaw sighed as Leopardheart trotted up.
Leopardheart was purring. "Good job, Silverfur!"
Silverfur looked at the moon.
Clear as crystal.
Leopardheart nudged her and pointed to Nighthawk.
Silverfur gazed at the lithe black tom that she had loved for many moons.
Leopardheart gave her a knowing smile and hopped away, beckoning the other she-cats, who followed.
Nighthawk noticed Silverfur looking at him. He walked over, his eyes glued to the ground.
"Don't be scared of me," Silverfur soothed. "I am not here to hurt anyone."
"No, Silverfur-" Nighthawk stared into her eyes suddenly, his filled with hurt. "I'm your mate, not your son. And also!" He added as Silverfur opened her mouth to protest. "You're always complaining and asking me about your StarClan cursed eyes!"
He had spat out the last few words in disgust.
Silverfur looked baffled.
Nighthawk drooped his tail. "Silverfur, I don't mean it. I will love you forever." Agony lingered still in his eyes. "I don't care what happens."
Silverfur squared her jaw. "No," she meowed.
Nighthawk stood there, silent.
"No," she repeated firmly. "You have supported me and helped me my whole life, even when I was a kit. I know that I can trust you, that you will stand by my side under any circumstances, have my back when you are about to die."
Her words seemed to cheer Nighthawk up, and Silverfur watched as the Clans began to leave.
Nighthawk tugged away as ThunderClan was dismissed, but Silverfur held him back.
"Let me show you something."
Silverfur was eager, and she rested her tail on Nighthawk's back as she waited for him to agree.
"Uhh," Nighthawk looked sheepish, as if he was new to what he was about to say. "Err, I would like to go with ThunderClan."
Silverfur, taken aback, nodded instinctively. "That's more like it," she meowed encouragingly.
But inside, her heart sank like a stone in water. They would have to go tomorrow.
But she followed Nighthawk, pride still making her tail quiver.
Silverfur had been awake all night, the kits jabbing the inside of her.
When the moon was high in the sky, she decided it was time.
Beside her, Nighthawk was snoring softly. She flicked him with her tail.
"What is it, Silverfur?"
"Follow me," Silverfur mewed quietly but excitedly.
Nighthawk obeyed without question as usual, his gaze wary as if he might assume it was a test.
Silverfur didn't mind, but she liked it when he disagreed with her.
"Close your eyes," she mewed softly.
Nighthawk glanced at her weirdly.
"Trust me," Silverfur pushed.
Nighthawk closed his eyes slowly and Silverfur led him through the forest.
Silverfur stopped when they had reached their spot where Silverfur and Nighthawk had first learned they were going to have kits.
Dead leaves still littered the small clearing, a few sprouts popping out of the ground.
Nighthawk looked around, then glanced at Silverfur's belly.
His eyes lit up as he reached her flanks.
"Silverfur!" He cried. "You're expecting kits!"
Silverfur nodded, speechless.
That night they slept soundly.
SEVEN MOONS LATER...
Pain engulfed Silverfur as a spasm gripped her.
Flowerstem sat calmly beside her new apprentice, Wolfpaw. She seemed more confident now that she was teaching someone.
Nighthawk lie down at the edge of the nest.
"There's at least two in there," Flowerstem mewed cheerfully.
Nighthawk crossed his paws. "How much longer?"
"Just a few moments," Flowerstem replied. She pawed at a cleft in the side of her den. "Do you know what this is, Wolfpaw?" She queried, angling the jagged leaf at him.
Wolfpaw twitched his tail. "Raspberry," he answered, his tail held high. "For queens."
Flowerstem let out a mroww of amusement and turned away.
Wolfpaw put a paw to her flank. "The convulsions are closer together," he explained. "That means that the kits should come any moment now."
Silverfur bit back a retort- you said that last night!- as a kit slid into the nest.
Wolfpaw cooed and scooped it up. "A she-cat," he announced.
Silverfur panted. She waited to push again, but nothing happened. "Is that all?"
Flowerstem pushed Wolfpaw aside and held her ear close to Silverfur's belly. "No, there's one more in there." She backed away. "Just wait."
Silverfur gazed at Nighthawk, who was just an outline in her vision. The pain made her eyes worse by the second.
Nighthawk's yellow eyes were the only color she could actually see.
Soon, there were two more toms lying in her nest with the single she-kit.
"We'll leave you two alone," Flowerstem purred, stepping out of the medicine den.
Silverfur glanced at the kits. She didn't know what color their pelts or eyes were.
But she could see them.
"Spikekit," she murmured, lightly touching her tail to the tom with his fur sticking out in all directions.
"He is light gray, or silver, like you." Nighthawk nodded. "He has my eyes."
Silverfur couldn't suppress a purr, no matter how miserable she was. "What color is the other tom?" She asked bleakly.
Nighthawk sniffed him. "He's dark gray with blue eyes."
"Name him Thunderkit."
Nighthawk smiled. "Our little daughter has amber eyes and a black pelt."
Silverfur opened her mouth, but closed it. "You choose."
Nighthawk looked baffled, but did so. "I think she looks like a Dusk-kit."
Silverfur sighed and set her head on her paws. "Do you really think it is time for me to become an elder?" She mewed, exasperated.
Nighthawk looked at the ground. "No, not yet. You are young, and blindness hasn't seemed to affect you much at all."
Silverfur started to lick Thunderkit. "I used to think the same thing," she meowed desperately. "But as I look at my second litter, I realize that I am already a senior warrior, in a way."
Nighthawk nodded hesitantly, clear he didn't know where his mate was going with this.
She continued. "And Stemstar is having kits soon. She can take care of these."
Nighthawk glanced wildly at the kits, then Silverfur. "No! These kits deserve you!"
Silverfur buried her head in the kits' fur. "When they are two moons old, Stemstar will have her litter. I'll let them get to know each other, and get them weaned, then they have no need for me."
Nighthawk exhaled. "Wow, Silverfur, I didn't know you felt that way." He got up. "Goodnight." He padded away.
Silverfur wondered if she had made the right choice.
Silverfur handed Dusk-kit to Stemstar. Thunderkit followed his sister, but Spikekit stayed at her side.
"I will take care of them," Stemstar, who had retired and was now Stempelt, vowed.
"Mother, what is going on?" Dusk-kit asked.
"I am going back to being a warrior now," Silverfur mewed. "You guys are going to sleep with Stempelt and her kits now."
"I don't want to!" Spikekit whimpered.
"Spikekit, I will just be in the elders' den, and I will visit you every day."
Thunderkit snorted. "Yeah, she will just be across camp all day." He jumped on Dusk-kit's tail, already feeling at home in Stempelt's nest.
Spikekit glanced at his mother. "See you later," he muttered.
Silverfur nodded solemnly and padded out of the nursery.
Creekstar nodded as she walked by, heading to the elders' den.
Flowerstem peeked out of the medicine den and smiled at her. Wolfpaw, beside the orange tabby, dipped his head as she passed.
Amberfur purred and fell in beside her friend.
Soon, Leopardheart was at her side.
"Why are you following me?" Silverfur asked. "I'm just checking on Dapplepelt."
"Oh," Amberfur mewed. She snorted. "Well, bye then."
Creekstar stifled a laugh.
Silverfur shook her head in amusement and padded into the den.
Dapplepelt lie motionless on the ground.
"Wow, elders really do sleep weird." Silverfur didn't want to wake her, so she picked up a squirrel for her and left.
Creekstar sat at the foot of the Announcement Tree, awaiting his daughter. "Why don't you take Sprucekit out of camp?" He suggested.
Silverfur tilted her head. "What?"
Creekstar smiled. "Sprucekit is to be apprenticed tomorrow," he mewed, glancing at the dark brown she-cat. "As well as her two siblings."
Silverfur nodded. "I assume I will be mentor to one of them."
Creekstar dipped his head. "You may choose. No cat has taken one."
Silverfur walked over to the nursery. "I'll get to know everyone first!" She called over her shoulder.
Sprucekit stared at her. "Hello, Silverfur!"
Silverfur purred. Sprucekit was most definitely her favorite. "Hello, Sprucekit. Would you like to be my apprentice?"
Sprucekit licked her paws sheepishly. "I'm sorry, Silverfur, I kinda wanted Whitepelt." She mewed guiltily.
Surprised, Silverfur nodded. "Okay, that's fine."
Making sure to show no signs of disappointment, she ducked into the nursery.
Spikekit and Thunderkit were scuffling on the floor and Dusk-kit was washing in the corner.
Dusk-kit saw her mother first. "You're back already?" She got to her feet. "Great StarClan, this is going to be easier than I thought."
Silverfur nuzzled her she-kit. "No, I'm just visiting Stempelt and Spotfur," she mewed.
Spotfur, the mother of Sprucekit, Warblerkit, and Curlkit, was sitting near the left side of the large nursery, her kits coaxing Stempelt's out of their new nest.
Silverfur padded over to the black queen. "Don't tell my kits," she let out a mroww. "But I'm apprenticing one of your kits. Sprucekit would like to have Whitepelt, but I don't know about Warblerkit and Curlkit."
Spotfur's eyes lit up. "Great!" She exclaimed. "Warblerkit looks up to you," she added.
Silverfur dipped her head.
Curlkit jumped in front of her. "Silverfur!" She cried. "Can you show me your hunting crouch again?"
The orange-brown she-cat crouched down in the hunter's position, low and unmoving.
Silverfur took note in her head that Curlkit was keen to learn, curious, and eager to please.
Warblerkit skidded to a halt at his sister's side. "No, I want to learn it!"
Curlkit curled her lip.
Warblerkit twitched his black ear. "Sure." He leaped on her and, claws sheathed, he swiped at her cheek and didn't miss. Curlkit recoiled quickly, though, and struck a blow this head.
Without staggering, Warblerkit continued confusing his sister by shooting his paws on either side of her and "scratching" her.
Soon enough, Curlkit was tired and couldn't keep dodging his moves and fell to the ground, defeated.
"Okay!" She huffed, getting to her paws. "You can teach Warblerkit!" She gasped for air, padding out of the nursery.
Silverfur nodded approvingly at Warblerkit and his eyes brightened.
The black-and-light blue tom-kit had great tactics and fighting skills. Curlkit was smart, cunning, and keen. Warblerkit was clever enough.
Silverfur dipped her head at Spotfur, who did the same back. She had made her choice.
"Creekstar!" she called.
Her father turned his head, his eyes bleary. Creekstar had obviously been asleep.
"What is it?" Creekstar cleared his throat and mewed.
"I know who Spotfur's kits should be apprenticed to."
Creekstar let out a sigh of relief. "Good, because I had no idea."
"I'll take Warblerkit," she mewed reluctantly. "Sprucekit really wanted Whitepelt, and she is fit to be a mentor. I'm not sure about Curlkit, but Nighthawk is prepared."
Creekstar, looking quite surprised, pulled his head backwards. "Nighthawk? A mentor?" He snorted. "He can barely tell his kits what to do!"
Silverfur glared at him sharply, but inside she knew it was true.
At moonhigh that night, the ceremony commenced.
All day, cats had been questioning and murmuring about who the deputy would be. Silverfur had no idea.
"ThunderClan! Three kits today will become apprentices!" Creekstar yowled. "Silverfur, you are blind, but you have great power, hunting skills, and battle skills. Pass them on to Warblerkit as he starts his journey as a warrior."
Silverfur stood in place, her muscles tensed because she could detect only the slightest of movement and didn't know when Warblerkit would touch his nose to hers.
She did, finally, feel a wet nose press against her pale pink one.
"Curlkit, your mentor will be Mossclaw. Teach her well. You will now be known as, until your warrior name is bestowed upon you, Curlpaw!"
Sprucekit got her choice, and after the ceremony, Silverfur curled up in her nest and before long she was asleep.
As she woke, Silverfur heard a loud snap from a tom.
Creekstar looked down on her as she scrabbled to get up. "It's Sun-high!" He growled.
Silverfur shook her pelt out and shoved her father aside, eager to meet her new apprentice for training.
Warblerpaw was bouncing around in front of the warriors' den. When he saw her he rushed over.
"What are we doing first!"
Silverfur swallowed a purr of amusement. Apprentices were so excited.
"I think that we will go over to the ShadowClan border first, then circle back and do something very important," Silverfur mewed.
Warblerpaw nodded vigorously.
"Follow me," Silverfur instructed, looking back as she went through the tunnel to be sure that the black tom with light blue spots was walking after her.
When she couldn't see him, Silverfur sighed sadly.
She was blind.
She quickened to a trot and hoped that her apprentice was following.
Silverfur opened her mouth and scented the two she-cats that were apprenticing Sprucepaw and Curlpaw.
Mossclaw snorted as Silverfur approached and she heard the greenish she-cat mew; "Whitepelt, we are practicing battle moves."
Behind her, Warblerpaw bristled with jealousy. "Curlpaw and Sprucepaw get to train for battle!" He said, moving closer to the clearing.
Mossclaw padded up to them. "We can take care of Warblerpaw, if he's being a hassle." She offered, taking a step towards the tom. Silverfur could barely make out her friend's concerned gaze.
"No," Silverfur mewed casually, but Mossclaw knew that she was serious. "Warblerpaw needs to accept that we are going to mark the ShadowClan border."
Warblerpaw hung his head and Silverfur shook hers in despair.
"Take him, Mossclaw!" Silverfur cried. "I can't!"
Shoving her new apprentice away, she fled back to camp.
Creekstar widened his eyes and leaped down from his basking spot atop the Announcement Tree.
"Silverfur," he murmured, stroking her back with his tail soothingly. "It's okay if you don't feel comfortable with an apprentice." He looked away. "I think you are ready to retire."
Guilt worming beneath her pelt, the pain inside of her was replaced with regret.
She ran to her nest.
I need to talk to her, she thought. All I need is to talk.
She fell asleep as soon as her fur brushed the bracken.
Instantly she was transported into the misty land that was Graypelt's hollow.
"Silverfur, I'm sorry."
Silverfur waved her away. "What am I supposed to do?" She muttered. "I'm blind but I have so much to give the Clan." Her eyes glazed over. "I don't want to spend the rest of my life in the elders' den."
Graypelt smirked. "Your StarClan-made life?"
Silverfur turned to stare at the gray she-cat. She leaned closer.
"Silverfur," Graypelt sighed. "StarClan created you from a litter so that you could save ThunderClan. You have great power, but not like Lionblaze, Jayfeather, and Dovewing in the past. You have the power to..." her eyes closed as she searched. "Silverfur, this is complicated."
"Tell me," Silverfur urged.
Graypelt side-glanced at Silverfur. "Silverfur, you are amazing at fighting, but you take compassion in other warriors. You understand." Graypelt whisked her tail into a leaf pile and swished a leaf in front of them. "Look at it as this leaf. The tree-" she glanced at the tall oak. "-sucks water and nutrients out of the ground to feed the leaves. The tree takes care of all the leaves."
Silverfur, skeptical, tilted her head.
Graypelt let her amusement out with a sigh. "You have the power of empathy. You care and understand about everyone and everything," Graypelt said. "Remember when you let Rabbitfoot go? When you had the choice to kill him? That was your power to be not a soft kittypet-like cat, but to understand when is the right time and when to let it go."
Silverfur curled her tail over her nose. "But it's no use now, is it."
The gray cat shook her head. Her tail whisked through the dark air, blocking out some of Silverfur's blurry sight.
"Graypelt!" Silverfur wailed.
"Alright," Graypelt sighed. Silverfur was dying.
Silverfur's eyes blinked twice, very quickly, and then flickered. Graypelt noticed.
"You need to get Flowerstem to help your eyes," Graypelt advised, forcing her voice not to quaver. They both knew nothing would help.
"No, Graypelt!" Silverfur howled. Her voice calmed. "I don't want to waste precious medicine supplies on an almost-blind lump of silver fur..."
There was nothing left to say. Nothing would help.
As Graypelt eased Silverfur out of her dreams, she thought, how could anything help?
It is over.
Flowerstem dropped juice into her eye. "Sorry."
Bristling, Silverfur drew her lips back. "I'm not here for pity," she said.
Flowerstem sighed heavily and turned away, looking for herbs.
Silverfur barely could make out her kits walking closer to her.
Troutstream brushed her whiskers against Silverfur's. "We are sorry."
Mistfur smiled weakly. "Mother, we will miss you."
Spikekit nodded. "I'm going to visit you every day!" He threw himself at his mother as he cried.
Silverfur wrapped around her light gray tom-kit, purring. "I'll look forward to it," she promised.
Dusk-kit padded up to her, hanging her head sulkily. "I guess...." she trailed off, mumbling. "Silverfur, I don't want you to be an elder. I want to train with you and-" she cut off; her voice had started to rise to a whine. She took a deep breath and continued. "I want you to be a warrior. You talked about how wonderful it was all the time when you slept in the nursery. I-I wanted you to be happy."
Silverfur released Spikekit and instead drew in Dusk-kit. "Thank you."
Dusk-kit backed away quietly.
Thunderkit had puffed out his chest. "I will be strong for momma and say goodbye." He stared into Silverfur's eyes, as if he thought he could make one last stand to make her eyesight come back. "Goodbye."
Her kits filed out of the nursery and she realized that she was saying goodbye to more than just sleeping with the warriors.
Nighthawk poked his head in. "Silverfur," he mewed softly.
The black tom walked closer to her. "I have no idea what to say."
Silverfur swallowed a laugh. This yellow-eyed cat had helped her through many days. Now it was time to thank him.
"Nighthawk," Silverfur said. "I want to thank you for sticking by my side this whole time." She paused, scouring her brain for words. "You never faltered there."
Nighthawk cleared his throat. His head slightly tilted and his ears perked.
Silverfur purred. "Uh oh, here comes cocky Nighthawk!"
Nighthawk gave her a stern glare. He shook out his pelt. "A more acceptable thanks would be, 'Thank you, Nighthawk, for standing obediently by my side for all of this time and thinking elaborately so that I wouldn't have to. You never did miss a step when you were helping me.'"
Nighthawk curled up beside her and together they glanced at the rising moon.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?"
Nighthawk's words filled her with love and she winced.
"What is it?" Nighthawk asked, his voice high with concern.
Silverfur shook her head as if to clear it. "It's fine," she mewed. She rolled over. "I'll miss you."
Nighthawk's eyes brimmed with emotion. "Thank you, Silverfur."
Silverfur snorted. "A more acceptable thanks would be-"
Nighthawk chuckled and swiped his tail over her mouth. "Okay, I deserve that."
The silver she-cat and the tom with a glittering black pelt slept soundly that night.
Yawning, Silvereye blinked open her light blue eyes. "Nighthawk,"
Her mate stirred. "Is it dawn?" He asked without opening his eyes.
Silvereye got up beside him to check.
The sky was a watery-gray and few clouds dotted it.
Or, it was watery-gray to Silvereye.
Nighthawk padded out after her. "It's dawn," he confirmed quietly. He twined his tail with hers.
Silvereye scowled and turned back around.
Nighthawk knew that she couldn't see anymore. There was darkness and a ghostly outline of light.
Silvereye, as she padded into the elders' den, admired the way that everyone respected her. Even though she was blind, no one questioned her devotion.
"ThunderClan!" The silver cat heard a call from outside.
Stemstar sat at the Announcement Tree's top, ready to yowl the news.
Silvereye crossed her paws and lie down, ears pricked.
Nighthawk had followed her and rested his tail on her back.
Stemstar waited until everyone was gathered, then cleared her throat. "There is bad news," She informed grimly. "We have found a fox den on the ridge border."
Gasps of horror sounded to her left. Silvereye rolled her blind eyes.
Stemstar continued. "There is five at least, and a patrol is on their way to see if there are any more. We will need all of our warriors to defeat them."
Silvereye glanced up, though it didn't matter. "All of them?" She asked loudly.
Stemstar make a clicking sound with her throat. "Even five foxes is a lot, let alone any more that we find."
Silvereye shook her head. "Alright then."
Stemstar led Silvereye through the forest.
Greentail twisted her tail with her old friend. "Are you ready?"
Silvereye nodded and jumped forward, her paws falling into the right places.
Mossclaw hissed at her to tell Silvereye where she was.
Silvereye scented, and Leopardheart was standing next to Amberfur at the side of the training sand.
"Do you remember your moves?" Amberfur fretted.
Silvereye tilted her head from side to side and bared her teeth.
Mossclaw wriggled on her haunches and pounced.
Silvereye dodged to the left and claw sheathed, swiped her paw across her gray brown friend's shoulder.
Mossclaw snarled and recovered, struggling to her paws.
Before she could strike, Silvereye launched herself underneath Mossclaw, and sliced over her belly.
She turned around underneath Mossclaw, as the she-cat would be expecting her to run out behind her, and shot out in front of her.
Surprised, Mossclaw backed away and Silvereye had time to strike a few blows to her cheeks.
Growling, Silvereye scratched her over her eye, which would have been the final blow.
She crouched down into the fighting stance. "I haven't forgotten." She said through clenched teeth.
Mossclaw gaped. "How did you-"
Silvereye's claws glinted in the early sun as she admired them.
Stemstar nodded. "I guess she is fighting with us," she mewed.
Silvereye snorted. "You guys are so desperate that you need an elder to fight for you?" She asked bad-temperedly.
Stemstar shook her head, laughing. "Okay, maybe, but you are still young enough to be a senior warrior, like Greentail and Mossclaw."
Troutstream skidded to a halt beside her, Mistfur at her side. "Silvereye, we heard the great news!" One of them cried.
Silvereye, for the life of her, couldn't tell who it was. The she-cats had grown so close that even their voices lacked difference.
Silvereye purred loudly.
It felt good, as she hadn't purred in forever.
Stemstar glanced to her side, looking for approval from Amberfur, the oldest warrior there.
Amberfur dipped her head. "I know Silvereye," she started. "She always knew what needed to happen, and didn't bark out orders like I remember some cats doing-" she cut off with a grin at Stemstar. "And Silvereye never missed a step, or blow, or piece of prey, even when she was blind." She nodded. "This cat deserves to be a warrior."
The deputy stepped back to inform that she was done speaking.
Stemstar gazed down at Silvereye. "Well, Silvereye-" she caught her mistake and smiled. "I mean, Silverfur..." her eyes were teasing.
Silvereye laughed. "When will you stop acting like a kit and start acting like a leader?"
Stemstar pouted. "Never!" She burst out laughing and Silvereye had to as well.
But really, She thought, when will this cat grow up? We can't have a leader that finds a leaf falling from the sky appealing!
Silvereye shook out her fur. "When will I officially be named?"
"How about... right now?" Stemstar mewed with a twinkle in her eye.
Silvereye followed everyone halfway to camp, then scoffed and sped ahead of them.
She reached camp moons before her Clanmates did.
Nighthawk was waiting for her at the tangle of branches she used to climb.
She smelled his scent and tentatively pulled herself into them.
"How did you do?" He mewed excitedly.
Silvereye rolled her eyes. "They're going to demote me to extra elder tomorrow," she said sarcastically.
Nighthawk looked at the ground. "Sorry-"
Silvereye snorted. "Nighthawk, I'm becoming a warrior in a million moons when Stemstar gets back with Amberfur and Leopardheart."
Nighthawk, who was an elder, gasped. "No way!" He cried. "You can't leave me in the elders' den by myself!" He followed Silvereye, who ignored him.
She dropped into camp, scaring a few cats out of their fur. Silvereye tried to calm them, but to no use. They weren't very scared, at most their tails were quivering.
Silvereye padded up to the Announcement Tree.
Stemstar walked into camp and immediately leaped up.
"All cats strong enough to climb an oak gather before me!"
Nighthawk, along with Amberfur and Leopardheart, trotted forward.
Spiketail was tussling with Curlfoot when he heard the call.
Silvereye let out a mroww of love. The whole Clan was expecting Spiketail and Curlfoot's kits.
Duskflower walked gracefully until she was at her mother's side.
Thunderfur sat further back with a pretty she-cat who Silvereye couldn't remember the name of.
Troutstream and Mistfur were huddled together next to Nighthawk in the corner of the clearing.
Stemstar continued. "Today there is an elder who has trained hard and rested well." She made a face. "Silvereye is blind, and she retired because of it. She should not have, as a training session proved today." Stemstar puffed out her chest. "StarClan looks down on this elder. Silvereye, you have shown that you are worthy. From now on, you are named Silvertouch, as your loving touch is comforting and soft."
Silvertouch stuck out her tongue. "Can I-" she had never heard anyone do this before. "Can I just have my old name back?"
Stemstar purred. "Well, special request, Silvertouch will now be named Silverfur, but inside she knows that she is very caring."
As the cheers died down, Stemstar opened her mouth to speak.
"As many of you were awaiting, Amberfur is retiring to the elders' den with Nighthawk." She mewed sadly. "I will now replace her."
Silverfur glanced around, wondering which warrior she would choose.
"Silverfur," Stemstar mewed.
"Yes?" Silverfur nodded at her.
Mrrows of amusement ran through the throng of cats.
Silverfur did so, realizing what was happening.
Stemstar touched her nose to Silverfur's. "I call upon our warrior ancestors to see us here. Look down on this warrior, who has proven herself many times, and is great at hunting and battle. StarClan approves as this silvery-white she-cat becomes the deputy of ThunderClan."
Stemstar stepped backwards.
Silverfur let the cheers wash over her as she closed her eyes.
She had more days to come.
Silverfur sat, her tail swishing, in the middle of the clearing, awaiting orders.
Spiketail's kits were whispering on the other side, near the nursery.
Curlfoot had just kitted, last moon, and Spiketail had been overjoyed.
Applekit, Whorlkit, Moonkit, and Salamanderkit.
Silverfur rolled her eyes.
"Moonkit, let's sneak up on her!" She heard a low voice, most likely Salamanderkit. "She's blind, she can't see us."
Silverfur licked her lips as she heard the little ones approaching.
As they pounced, Silverfur whipped around. "Learn some respect!" She hissed.
They recoiled, then laughed.
Moonkit stood there. "I'm so glad you're my kin!" She dashed off, her brother right behind her.
Nighthawk had died a few moons ago. Silverfur had waited long for his death to come, as he was older and his whitecough getting worse.
Duskflower had taken it the hardest out of all of them.
She was pregnant with Raventail, her mate, but he had been wounded in battle.
Wolfpelt had treated him with all he had, but Raventail was not predicted to survive.
Nowadays, Duskflower stayed in the nursery with her best friend, Acornspot.
Silverfur had decided finally that she needed to become an elder. No one denied, or objected, but all of the cats missed Silverfur dropping into camp, talking loudly, and speaking out at Clan meetings.
Today was the day. She could feel it.
SkyClan's fiercest were ready, though.
That night, Silverfur fell asleep easily.
Stars appeared in her vision.
Graypelt! She tried to gasp, but she could not talk.
The dark gray she-cat smiled. "Your destiny is complete, but you still have a place here with us in StarClan."
She stepped aside to reveal everyone.
Nighthawk was the first to appear, along with Troutstream and Robinkit.
"Oh, I've missed you!" Silverfur pressed her cheek to Nighthawk's, then pulled Robinkit in close. "Robinkit, you too."
Troutstream made a face.
Silverfur turned to her. "Is it lonely here without Mistfur?"
Troutstream chuckled. "I'm fine," she mewed, then brushed her whiskers against Silverfur's chin.
Creektail peeked out from behind them. "Hello!"
Silverfur rushed to see her father.
Then something hit her.
She could see!
"I wish you had never died!" Silverfur trilled. "I have been lonely without any of you guys!"
Her mother, Mistpelt, her mother, was standing in front of her.
For almost her whole life, Silverfur had grown up without Mistpelt. Without a mother.
Robinkit had died of the same cause. The badger that had forced the nursery into the middle of the camp.
Mistpelt gazed at her with loving eyes.
Silverfur widened her eyes. "Mistpelt!"
The she-cats purred, and Mistpelt shouldered her daughter. "You'll be telling me everything," she mewed in a warning tone. "Like how you ended up with that black tom over there."
Silverfur stifled a burst of laughter.
Mistpelt leaned closer. "He seems like a good cat, but don't be giving him any ideas."
Silverfur let out a soft purr.
Silverfur gazed into her mother's eyes for the first time she could remember. "Mother, I'm ready to live the life that we missed together."
Well, that was the book! Thank you for reading all 26 chapters! Now, like I promised, here is the excerpt from the new Dawnbridge Series!
Sheenheart's Clanmates mumbled to each other about the boggy ground.
They had taken a shortcut through ShadowClan territory to avoid the coyotes.
Sheenheart shook each paw when they reached the shore and began filing over the tree bridge.
Oat-tail had stuck at her side the whole trek, Sheenheart murmuring encouraging phrases to her occasionally.
The Clans looked ragged and scrawny. All of them were glancing around warily.
"Looks like they have had problems with the coyotes too."
It was the first time Oat-tail had talked tonight, and she sounded the most worried.
Sheenheart knew that she must have had a mate in another Clan.
Bonestar of WindClan was already up in the Great Oak, right next to Ripplestar. Shinepelt, Stradstar, and Sixstar were on the branch above them.
Clearstar leaped up to join them.
Bonestar cleared his throat. "I'll go first," he offered. "WindClan has three new kits thanks to Flattenfur; Scapekit, Grasskit, and Gullkit."
His eyes darkened as if he had more news to share.
"Go ahead, Shinepelt."
Shinepelt, who's Clan looked the strongest of all, dipped her head. "Thank you," she meowed curtly. "FireClan has one new apprentice, Narrowpaw!"
The milky-white apprentice ducked her head as cheers ran throughout the island.
Clearstar spoke up.
"ThunderClan has a new leader, and our deputy has died."
"Already?" There were disbelieving whispers. "Slashstar just became leader!"
Clearstar looked slightly embarrassed at her next statement. "Our forest has been taken over by coyotes." She announced.
The other leaders exchanged glances, then Stradstar nodded.
"We may have had problems with coyotes," Ripplestar mewed delicately, her lip trembling.
The new leader looked truly horrified.
Stradstar let his tail rest on her back for a moment before whisking it away. "ShadowClan has too."
Shinepelt looked around. "Bonestar?"
Bonestar licked his chest fur sheepishly. "Yes, Cheetahtail died of an attack." He mewed.
Sixstar nodded boldly. He had been SkyClan's leader as long as any cat could remember. "We have been scared and under attack for more than three sunrises."
Clearstar stared at Sheenheart, not knowing what to say.
Shinepelt lashed her tail uneasily. "FireClan has not been affected by the coyotes." She meowed.
Angry gasps sounded at her words.
Sheenheart jumped up into the Great Oak.
"Clans of the lake," she began. "We have obviously all been having trouble with the coyotes," she looked apologetically at Shinepelt. "Well, most of us. Anyways, we cannot stay here and let these coyotes affect our lives. We need to leave the lake." She declared.
Shineplet looked at her Clan. "She could not have spoken true words. We must not stay here." She took a deep breath. "It is six Clans or none. FireClan will go to a new home with every cat."
Sheenheart felt her tail droop involuntarily. This was the only home anybody had ever known. And they would be leaving Yakpelt.
Sheenheart squared her shoulders. "We leave tomorrow at dawn!" She shouted. "We have no time to lose!"
So that was the excerpt from Sheenheart's Challenge, now here is the next one that I have been working on!
Sheenkit stretched open her eyes.
Bluetail, her mother, smiled at her triumphantly. "Look, I told you, Snowtail!"
Snowtail simply nodded, then went back to grooming her own kits.
Sheenkit blinked her newly-opened eyes. "What?"
Bluetail waved her away. "Nothing, honey."
Sheenkit, frowning, tilted her head. "Can I go out now?" She asked.
Bluetail's face softened. "Are you sure?" She fretted, examining Sheenkit's pelt.
Sheenkit rolled her eyes. She didn't know what her mother expected to find in her fur that was different from last time. "I'm ready," she trilled.
Bluetail's eyes rounded. "Be careful!"
Sheenkit tried to walk across the nursery. She accidentally walked into a bramble, wincing.
Crevicekit stifled a purr of amusement.
Sheenkit screwed up her muscles, then walked over to him, gracefully this time. "And I suppose you walked perfectly when you were born," she retorted.
Crevicekit growled. "Well, I'm going to hang out with Fallkit, you know, the one who doesn't make fun of me!"
From the other side of the nursery, Sheenkit heard Fallkit.
"You ate funny when you were younger, too," the gray tom with brown spots made a face.
Sheenkit smirked and whipped around smugly, padding out of the nursery.
Soiltail sat outside.
"Good morning, Sheenkit."
"Hello, Soiltail," Sheenkit mewed.
Soiltail turned to face her, then shook his head, as if she were a disgrace. "I don't know where you got that white pelt," he walked away.
Sheenkit tilted her head, sadness overcoming her.
A hunting patrol had just arrived, Dapplepelt pushing through the entrance tunnel last.
The plump she-cat had a large squirrel in her jaws. Sheenkit was amazed.
Dapplepelt didn't even stop to acknowledge the white kit. "Oh, hi Sheenkit." She mewed to her side.
Sheenkit's tail drooped. Why would nobody talk to her?