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The Gathering

Warriors doesn't belong to me.

R&R please.

Sandpaw sighed deeply while she joined the cats for the gathering. It was just her, Nettlepaw and Spottedpaw from the apprentices. Though the other apprentices had been back in training, Firepaw, Whitepaw, Greypaw and Hollypaw were in the medicine-cats den again.

They'd run into ShadowClan cats while being on a hunting assessment and though they'd won the battle, their wounds had broken up again. Nightstar's yowl snapped her out of her thoughts and the cats left the camp. Yet Sandpaw's thoughts always went back to the tom she loved with all her heart. He'd looked so weak when she'd visited him in the medicine-cats den.

Splashwhisker had said Tigerstar's wounds would scar him for life, just like Whitepaw, Greypaw and Hollypaw. Ravenpaw and Silverpaw had spent almost all of their free time with the cats they loved and Bluepaw had stayed with her former nephew as well. Suddenly fur brushed along hers and she jerked out of her thoughts when she scented Nettlepaw next to her.

"Nettlepaw what with StarClan?", exclaimed the she-cat and backed away.

"Ahw common", purred the silver-white tabby and closed to her. "Why not to get to know each other better."

"Have you lost your mind", freaked the ginger she-cat. She ran forward to walk between Reedheart and Hawkpath.

"What is it Sandpaw?", asked Reedheart his apprentice.

"Nettlepaw", hissed the pale-ginger apprentice. "Who does he think he is? First making all of our lives a living hell and constantly pestering the tom I love and now he's trying to flirt with me!" She groaned frustrated and both warriors burst out in laughter. "What's so funny?", hissed Sandpaw enraged.

Both laughed harder, then Hawkpath explained: "Sandpaw, you're a beautiful young she-cat. It's no wonder that Nettlepaw is attracted to you."

"Yeah well, he still knows that I'm with Firepaw. And how can he expect me to like him in the way he's treating Firepaw?" Sandpaw huffed and pushed her nose into the air. If Nettlepaw wants me to treat him like Firepaw, thought the she-cat smirking. He can have it. Let's see how he handles scorn and arrogance when it doesn't come from him.

She knew Reedheart glanced at her warily now, but signed him she would explain later. He nodded and they walked on. They swiftly crossed the border to WindClan and walked on. Suddenly they heard meows and the WindClan patrol caught up with them. A black tom with yellow eyes padded up to Nightstar and fell in step with him.

"Is that Crowstar?", asked Sandpaw. Reedheart nodded and gazed over the WindClan cats.

"Do you see the two cats behind him?"

Sandpaw craned her neck and caught a glance at a white and ginger tabby tom and a grey-brown tom. "Yeah, who are they?"

"The tabby is Brackenheart, Crowstar's deputy. The other tom is Hazeclaw, their medicine cat."

"Then I guess the golden she-cat there is Hazeclaw's apprentice?", asked Sandpaw, meaning the she-cat right behind Hazeclaw.

Hawkpath nodded and explained: "That's Sunnydawn. Splashwhisker said she just gained her new name."

"Sunnydawn?", asked Sandpaw on. "That sounds a bit like a kitty-pet."

"Well, it's said her mother was a kitty-pet, though no one knows if it's true."

"Well, it suits her", stated the pale-ginger she-cat.

Then her eyes softened. She'd found Ebonyfur and Streakpelt under the WindClan cats. They seemed nervous and Sandpaw knew they feared Firepaw, Dustpaw and Whitepaw had talked. But since no one made any comments, the two started to relax. The two clans crossed the border to RiverClan and soon reached the fallen tree.

"Your clan my go first", offered Crowstar.

Nightstar glanced at the WindClan leader confused, but meowed his thanks and jumped onto the tree. ThunderClan followed, with Sandpaw trailing behind, looking at the WindClan cats. Though she was the smaller she-cat, the WindClan cats seemed even smaller and thinner than she remembered. Something happened to them, thought the she-cat. If I would just know what. Why are they all suddenly so small? Even Onestar wasn't like this. He was about my size and I was one of the smallest she-cats in ThunderClan. She shook her head and swiftly climbed over the tree. Landing on the island, she groaned.

Nettlepaw waited for her. Remembering what she'd decided, she raised her head and nose into the air and stalked past the apprentice.

Nettlepaw was silent shortly, then laughed and asked: "So, why the sudden change of attitude?"

Sandpaw glared at him and growled: "Shut up you mouse brain."

At this the tabby froze and Sandpaw walked on. On the clearing, she padded up to Spottedpaw, where she dropped the arrogant attitude and sighed deeply.

"What is it?"

"Nettlepaw", purred Reedheart, who'd settled down near them. "So, what's your plan against his advances?" Spottedpaw looked surprised at Sandpaw.

She sighed again and explained: "Remember how I treated Firepaw when he joined ThunderClan?"

At this Spottedpaw chuckled and stated: "Yes, I remember. When I saw from StarClan that you started having feelings for him, I almost bit my tail of in surprise. You liked him the least."

Now Reedheart looked surprised and asked: "You did?"

Sandpaw nodded and continued: "I wasn't very nice to him so I decided to treat Nettlepaw with the same arrogance I once treated Firepaw with. Seems to work, but I'm not like that anymore and it's not easy to act like that." Spottedpaw nodded in understanding, then suddenly screeched and crouched down, her eyes wide in fear.

"Sp-Spottedpaw?", asked Reedheart confused.

She whimpered, then Sandpaw asked: "Spottedpaw what's wrong?"

Spottedpaw glanced up at her, then stammered: "Moons of peace followed the fight of blood. Now blood threatens once more. But does it threaten the Tiger or the Lion? Only Dawn can reveal!"

"So?", asked Sandpaw.

"O-Over there", whispered Spottedpaw and gestured to a group of apprentices with her paw. Sandpaw looked there, to almost jump up with a screech. The tom she stared at suddenly looked back and smirked evilly when his ice-blue eyes locked with her green ones.

"S-Scourge", breathed Sandpaw in shock.

"Scourge?", asked Reedheart.

"He…"

Sandpaw was interrupted when a voice sneered: "Well, if it isn't the kittypet's protectors."

Sandpaw spun around with a growl and hissed: "Shut it Brokentail! At the moment I have other, more important, problems that the ego of an ex-leader of ShadowClan!"

"It's Brokenstar!", hissed the brown tom back, when Reedstar teasingly cut in: "Actually, it would be more Brokenpaw now, not?"

Brokenpaw stared in disbelieve, then asked: "You actually told someone?"

"Yes", hissed Sandpaw. "After Tigerpaw's first mental attack on Firepaw. Now shut up. I want to know what Scourge is up to."

"Scourge!", exclaimed the ShadowClan apprentice and looked honestly shaken now. He spun around and dashed off, to two dark tabbies.

"Oh great", groaned Spottedpaw. "Tigerpaw and Hawkpaw are here too."

"I'm still more worried about Scourge", argued Sandpaw and focused on the small black tom who sat with RiverClan, once again. Suddenly he stood up and calmly walked directly at her.

He smirked evilly and asked: "Sandstorm when my memories aren't wrong, not?" His voice still sounded like shattering ice.

"Sandpaw now", answered the pale-ginger she-cat. "But yes Scourge, it's me. The mate of the tom that put an end to your doings."

Scourge laughed and sneered: "Well, at least I see that you got some points in your just so dear warrior code."

With that he turned away and stalked off. "If it wouldn't be a gathering, I would kill him right here and now", hissed Sandpaw angrily.

"Sandpaw calm", soothed Spottedpaw, then chuckled. Sandpaw followed her gaze and almost burst out in laughter. Tigerpaw had backed away from Scourge in fear. Then the leaders called for silence and Sandpaw looked up at the tree. She purred when she saw Nightstar on the same branch Firestar had always enthroned.

"Who of those two are the leaders of ShadowClan and RiverClan?", asked Spottedpaw.

Reedheart looked up to the tree and answered: "The silver tabby she-cat Nightstar stays away from is Ivystar, ShadowClans leader. The silver she-cat near Crowstar is Silverstar. She's RiverClans leader. The black she-cat next to Rivertail is Nightfur, she's Silverstar's deputy and the ginger tom next to Nightfur is Foxclaw, Ivystar's deputy."

Sandpaw nodded in understanding and couldn't help but glare at Ivystar with hatred. "Who will speak first?", asked Nightstar.

"I will", called Silverstar. The black tom nodded and sat down while the silver she-cat stood up.

"Like always in Green-Leaf, Twolegs come to the lake, however we have no problems with prey since we managed to expand our territory in the back." She sat down again and Crowstar stood up.

"WindClan doesn't have any problems either. Green-Leaf brought us, for what we know, rich prey." The cats on the clearing purred amused, then Crowstar continued: "Last half-moon. Hazeclaw's apprentice finished her apprenticeship. Now Sunnypaw is Sunnydawn."

"Sunnydawn! Sunnydawn!", cheered the clans and the golden she-cat sheepishly sunk her head.

Then Ivystar stood up and Sandpaw heard several silent growls.

"Silence", demanded Nightstar, knowing as well as her, the growls came from his clan. Ivystar nodded in thanks to him and then she stated: "ShadowClan has a few problems with the twolegs at the lake, however like RiverClan, we expanded our territory in the back, so we have no problems with prey."

She sat down and now Nightstar stood up, but instead of facing the clans, he turned to Ivystar and calmly asked: "You say you have no problems, but why do you attack ThunderClan in its heart?"

The River- and WindClan cats gasped.

Ivystar stayed calm and answered: "You keep your patrols under control and I won't attack back."

"I beg your pardon?", exploded Nightstar finally. "What do you mean with that?"

"Your two warriors hurt an apprentice badly."

"Bonetail and Brighteye chased him back over the border, to be attacked by your warriors. They fought them off and Brighteye almost died because they hurt her so bad and you tell me to keep my patrols under control?" Everyone backed off at his rage, however Ivystar stood her ground and growled at him. "And something else", continued Nightstar. "The warrior code says: An honourable warrior does not need to kill other cats to win his/her battles, unless they are outside the warrior code or if it is necessary for self-defence."

"Indeed it does, but what do you mean with that?", asked Ivystar. She seemed upright confused.

Nightstar took a calmer stand and now sorrow lay in his voice: "You should teach your apprentices better. Firepaw used all of his strength and is scarred for life from his tries to keep Sapphirefur to fall from the cliff. Since an apprentice of yours constantly attacked him, though he couldn't defend himself because he had no claw free. In the end, Sapphirefur sacrificed herself so her apprentice could life. An attack from your border patrol yesterday, broke up Firepaw's, Whitepaw's, Hollypaw's and Greypaw's wounds from the fight again. That's why Splashwhisker isn't here today. He stayed back to make sure those four survive." He took a deep breath and now turned to all four clans. "We luckily lost no warrior besides Sapphirefur through this fight, but the four apprentices I announced before, are scarred for life. After the battle Songpaw became the warrior Songheart."

"Songheart! Songheart!", cheered the clans, but uneasyness still lay over all cats.

"Other than that ThunderClan has no problems." With that Nightstar leaped down from the tree, silently ending the gathering. Sandpaw jumped up and raced to her leader immediately. When Nightstar reached the trees he turned back to give Ivystar one last glare. "Ivystar, I will continue to blame you for Sapphirefur's unnecessary death, since I can't very well blame an apprentice."

With that Nightstar leaped forward and ThunderClan followed fast.

"It is incredible that Nightstar stayed this calm during his announcement."

"Calm?", asked Songheart confused. "He exploded up there."

"But never attacked", argued Sandpaw.

"And for the fact that two of his three sons are in Splashwhisker's den because of ShadowClan, that's pretty good", ended Reedheart with a nod of approval.

Suddenly WindClan caught up with them and Crowstar offered loud enough for everyone to hear: "Nightstar…when ShadowClan continues making you this problems, I offer our help."

Nightstar froze almost immediately and narrowed his eyes at the smaller tom. Sandpaw swallowed a sigh. Firestar would have accepted almost immediately, maybe just questioning the reasons calmly. "Why would you do so?", asked the ThunderClan leader warily.

"Because, at the moment our clans live in peace and I want to keep it that way for a while. An alliance is probably just what we need."

Nightstar stared for a little longer, then said: "I'll think about your offer. Can I send a warrior with the answer?"

"Of course", answered Crowstar. Both leaders nodded, then went on in different directions.

"What do you think?", muttered Reedheart to Sandpaw.

The she-cat muttered back: "I know Firestar would've said yes. In our life-time, our, almost friendship, with WindClan saved us often."

Reedheart nodded in understanding, then they walked on in silence. Suddenly Sandpaw saw a flash of white and with a mental groan she walked straighter, raised her head and nose and stared straight ahead. Reedheart glanced at her, then also spotted Nettlepaw and glared slightly at the older apprentice.

"Well Sandpaw", asked Nettlepaw. "What do you think about Crowstar's offer?"

"Nightstar should accept", answered Sandpaw simply and walked on without even looking at Nettlepaw.

"Why so?", asked Nettlepaw confused.

"Use your brain…if you even have one", snapped Sandpaw and scooted closer to Reedheart. "And keep your pelt away from mine." Nettlepaw looked confused, but gave up and ran forward to catch up with his mentor. Sandpaw relaxed and shook her head. "I hate that tom", stated the she-cat.

Reedheart purred amused and answered: "But you're doing great in getting him off."

Sandpaw smirked.

Firepaw tiredly glanced up from his position in Splashwhisker's den, when he heard noise. He was in too much pain to sleep, not even poppy-seed would help. Suddenly Sandpaw rushed into the den and Splashwhisker hissed: "Sandpaw! Stop!"

"Please let me stay here with Firepaw", begged the she-cat. "I…Nettlepaw is driving me crazy. I can't sleep in the same den as him!"

"When you be silent I might allow it", hissed Splashwhisker. "Firepaw is already having problems to sleep so don't be too…"

"I'm still awake", but Firepaw softly in and looked at them.

Splashwhisker sighed and stated: "I wish I could give you more to numb the pain, but that would make the state the rest of your body is in just worse."

"It's okay", mumbled the ginger tom tiredly. "You do your best. C-Can Sandpaw stay here? I feel more comfortable with her."

Splashwhisker nodded and stated: "Maybe she can get you to sleep."

With that he padded back to his nest and curled up next to Spottedpaw, who'd come in and just collapsed in her nest. "So…", mumbled Firepaw after Sandpaw had settled down next to him, her fur warming his injured flank, numbing the pain. "How was the gathering?"

She frowned a bit, then promised: "I tell you tomorrow, alright?"

Firepaw nodded since he started to feel drowsy.

Soon he was fast asleep.

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