Chapter 14: Fawnfur
"Foxdung!" Lakefrost spat, his claws digging into the ground.
I saw him glance at me, apology in his eyes. "I don't think we'll be seeing each other very soon."
"But we only have a moon, Lakefrost," I protested. If so much of our time was taken up by trying to talk, we'd never save ThunderClan in time.
"A moon for what?"
I looked up in horror--Lakefrost hadn't asked that question. I turned to the ThunderClan side of the border where the voice had come from and watched a long haired silver tom with a white face walk out from the undergrowth. The ferns and bright yellow flowers shook in his passing.
"Ow-," I tried to say his name, but he interrupted me.
"I see you're back again," my Clanmate growled at Lakefrost. I saw his claws come out, his stance more challenging. His thick tail thrashed behind him. "Stay away from our she-cats or you're crowfood!"
Owlface hissed and rushed forward. I held my breath, frightened. Lakefrost couldn't stay here! A fight would attract attention and he could get hurt.
Lakefrost seemed to feel the same. I watched the ShadowClan tom run over the border. He quickly disappeared into the trees after Ashpaw and I felt relief. It didn't last very long.
"Fawnfur," Owlface snapped, turning on me. His claws came in, but the angry look didn't leave his wide face.
"What are you doing meeting with him? He's a trespassing ShadowClan warrior!"
"I know," I replied, glancing down at the ground between by front paws, thinking of an excuse. "He just needed supplies for his Clan."
"And why wasn't Flametail with him?" Owlface demanded.
"He was busy," I meowed.
"And he let Lakefrost come here?" he hissed.
I nodded mutely, praying that Owlface would just let it drop. That he'd just accept my word for it.
"I will have to tell Bramblestar," Owlface meowed, looking up into the leaves. "ShadowClan is growing too bold."
"No," I protested a bit too quickly.
I watched his eyes narrow. "Fawnfur," he breathed out. "You can't really be. . .?"
"Of course not, don't be silly," I tried to laugh. "I'm a medicine cat. If I can't see you than I certainly wouldn't see him."
Owlface blinked. I could suddenly see him thinking, judging, finding a weakness in my words. My belly felt sick.
"I won't tell Bramblestar about this meeting or the one tonight, if. . .," he watched me, "if you promise you will stay with me. I want you to spend time with me and not avoid me, but go on patrols with me. Invite me with you when you look for herbs. Hunt with me."
He waited. I swallowed. So that's what he wanted. Owlface still wanted to be my mate and he would do what it took to get me, even lie for ShadowClan. I really didn't want to do this. I didn't want to be with Owlface. It would keep giving him the wrong idea, making him think he even still had a chance to be my mate.
But I couldn't sacrifice this meeting or the one tonight. I had to see Lakefrost. No one else could know about it. If the rest of my Clan thought I was meeting with him, they would think the same thing Owlface was: that I loved Lakefrost. The only cat who really believed me that our Clan was in danger was Jayfeather. Even if the two of us tried to explain to Bramblestar, he might not believe us. Or he would believe us and our Clan would became paranoid, searching for the unknown, unseen threat. If we told him and he told the Clan, it would warn the cats who were trying to destroy ThunderClan we knew about them. They would become more cautious and harder to stop. I had to agree to Owlface's demand.
"All right, Owlface."
He smiled at me, suddenly very happy. He put his tail on my back and quickly led me from the border. I glanced over my shoulder where Lakefrost had disappeared.
. . . but I would only agree until the problem had passed. After ThunderClan was saved, Owlface couldn't get away with this anymore.
We walked to the ferns and tall grass, the thick trunks of the trees leading up to the sky, the green leaves rustling in a sudden wind as we made our way back to camp.
Later that night I snuck into the twoleg den, the sun just sinking behind the WindClan horizon. Through the cracks in the floor and the ceiling overhead I could see the pale orange sky. I knew the moon, hiding behind the trees, was almost full, waning as slices disappeared each night.
Tufts of grass poked through the stones underpaw, mice squeaked from holes in the walls, and birds settled down for the night in the level above. I wasn't interested in hunting just yet; I'd eaten back at camp just before coming here to the border, waiting for Lakefrost. Owlface was out in the night shrouded forest, pretending to hunt with me. He'd go back to sleep later, hopefully making an excuse for the night guard if I didn't show by moon high.
He'd promised to do this for me tonight. I felt grateful to him that he'd allow me to meet with the ShadowClan tom this once. Hopefully all my questions would be answered now, no more hiding and sneaking, not sure who I was supposed to look out for or who my help was. This sunhigh had hardy been enough time, but I knew I had to trust Lakefrost. He was the one StarClan had lead me to. Him and his siblings. The four I was waiting on who would help me against our unknown enemies. I believed he knew more than me. He held the secrets, perhaps the who and the what that wanted to destroy ThunderClan. We just had to meet and finally talk about it.
As I sat down in a corner on the cold stone, keeping my eyes on major openings, I thought about that day. Lakefrost came to me, glad I was there and then had to leave right away. I hoped he'd caught up to Ashpaw. The apprentice could cause troubles for us and if Lakefrost was already punished once, I didn't want to think what the other one would be for crossing into our territory uninvited again. I had invited him of course, but Fallingstar might not see it that way. Only deputies and leaders, and on occasion the medicine cat, had the real power. I was only an apprentice still, despite all I'd been through.
"We really need to be more specific on the time," I muttered to myself, gazing through the crack overhead. The silver-white stars had already started appearing in the blackness. I had no idea how long I'd have to sit there, waiting for Lakefrost. Luckily it wasn't a cold night. Greenleaf had its advantages.
Time passed slowly for me as I waited there in the dark. The mice didn't settle down but seemed to grow more active. They were wary, slinking cautiously in the twoleg nest, catching my scent with their little noses. The moon slowly filled the gaps above, shining down on me and illuminating leaves and moss. Still I sat, waiting for the ShadowClan tom.
Storm clouds gathered overhead later in the night, hiding the moon and the stars. The air felt colder and then the gentle rain started, drops striking the leaves, falling to the ground. I tiredly stared out the opening, watching the rain darken the ground, weighing down the undergrowth. Drops whizzed by me, entering the dwelling. I was reminded of my warrior's vigil; the picture entered my mind unbidden . . .
-Line to past-
The rain struck the ground in front of us before flying into the air again, landing on Morningsong's paw. She shook it out, her eyes narrowed. I knew she wanted to speak, to say something about the rain. But we couldn't. We were meant to keep our silence as we protected our Clan that night, all alone. This once I wished one of our gifts included mindspeak or mind reading. It would have been useful. However we knew each other too well that we didn't need to speak. As kits we'd learned to speak at the same time, frightening the warriors and even getting Cinderheart to stare at us oddly. As apprentices we'd grown apart, yet as new warriors we were together again. No one could ever separate us.
I looked over at Sunstorm. My sister gazed up at the clouds as more drops came down through the bare tree limbs, striking the small green buds and flowers. The air felt like ice, but warmed with the cloud covering. She smiled, seeming to say, "I knew this would happen."
I smiled too. Of course she would. She could see the future after all. She must have known this night would come that Firestar would make us warriors together in this peaceful time. I wondered how long she'd kept it to herself. Yet I'd seen her gaze longingly at the warrior's den often enough this past moon.
My sister met my eyes, opening her jaws. Morningsong's tail landed in her mouth. Sunstorm spat it out and nodded in acceptance. Instead of speaking, she moved closer to me, huddling by my side. Morningsong quickly took my other side as the rain increased. We would sit through it this night. No matter how long it was until morning, I told myself.
Soon the rain came pouring down. My ears lowered with the weight, our ginger-brown pelts flattening and turning darker brown. It was miserable. I wished the warriors or even Firestar would invite us inside to a better place for a vigil. It hardly seemed fair. All the warriors I knew hadn't held vigil in the rain. Snow yes, even wind, and on occasion during daylight, but not in the rain.
I shook my head, the water scattering from my head before settling back down. I had to think of something else and not how annoying this was.
Fawnfur. My new name slid through my mind and I felt my heart swell. I loved my name.
-Line to present-
I smiled again. That had been our happiest moment together that early newleaf, although a leafbare chill had swept through the forest later and snow once again covered the ground for one moon more. We had stayed together often, each preparing for the day Sunstorm would become deputy, as she'd once seen as a kit. Then she died and all our plans failed.
I sighed, the pleased feeling leaving me. So much had changed since the ceremony.
My eyes started to drift, my mind wandered. My head started to nod and I didn't know when I fell asleep. I woke up when the rain stopped. My ears lifted, my eyes opening. I looked around. Nothing. No one. He wasn't coming, was he?
"Come on, Fawnfur," Owlface called. He stood by the entrance, his legs shifting in impatience.
"He has no sense of subtly," Jayfeather rumbled, his sightless eyes gazing in the warrior's direction. "His thoughts are also very loud. All filled with you."
I felt my ears grow warm. I swallowed and meowed, "I'm sorry, Jayfeather."
"No, I understand," my mentor answered. "I couldn't see another way out of this mess. Bramblestar and the rest aren't ready to hear. I have a feeling the enemy StarClan warned us about isn't something normal warriors can handle."
"Have they spoken with you?"
He shook his head and I looked away. We stood by the fresh-kill pile speaking while the rest of the Clan slowly awoke around us.
"Not yet," my mentor meowed. "I hope that tomorrow night they will."
I remembered that the half-moon was the next night. A whole quarter moon had passed since I'd last seen Lakefrost. He hadn't ever shown that night and I had to realize he never would. He'd been caught. What else was I to think? He'd warned me that day, but bitter thoughts filled my mind that perhaps he was avoiding me now. All his trouble came from visiting me.
Since a quarter moon ago I was never able to get back to the border. Owlface took all my time. Inviting me to hunt with him, patrol, go with me when I went to get herbs, though I never did collect any, the storage cleft was so full. I knew the Clan had to notice his attention and I had to come up with many excuses to justify our being together. I was starting to think it wasn't working.
"Come on, Fawnfur," Owlface meowed.
"Go before he wakes up the whole Clan," Jayfeather nudged me.
"Hopefully I can lose him before sunhigh," I muttered, starting to walk away.
"I'll send Frostshine or someone to take him away on a patrol," he promised.
"Thank you," I smiled at him. When I couldn't do something for myself, he was there to help. Besides, Owlface didn't realize I informed my mentor of everything. If this didn't work, then I would ask him to go to Flametail to talk about something and meet with Lakefrost. For now, I would take my opportunity away from Owlface to find my ShadowClan helper.
I walked to the entrance, the shadows from the quarry covering my back and hiding the warm sun from us. When we left the camp, the trees only let through glancing beams from the ShadowClan direction.
"We're going to hunt near WindClan," Owlface meowed. "Maybe we can catch a few rabbits."
"Shouldn't we leave that for the apprentices?" I asked.
"We might just see them," he purred back, pressing his side against mine. I felt my fur prickle where he touched. I wanted to pull away, but I had to keep my promise so he'd keep his. "Yesterday, Ivyflight said she'd take Meadowpaw to the border," he continued.
"Good," I mewed. As long as we weren't alone together. I didn't know how far he'd go then. How far he'd push me, threatening to reveal Lakefrost's crossing to Bramblestar to get me to do something else for him.
We did hunt that day. I'm not that bad. I don't get much practice as a medicine apprentice. I'd also slacked on battle training, but I still knew how to fight since I used to be a warrior. I wasn't defenseless as some cats might think. But my mind wasn't completely on hunting, I kept waiting for my rescue.
Sunhigh did come eventually and so did three cats from the bushes: Frostshine, a silvery-white she-cat with a limp; Nightshade, Frostshine's black brother with two long scars down his chest and front legs; and Firesong, an older ginger warrior.
"Owlface, " Nightshade called. "Come on a patrol with us! We'll help you carry the fresh-kill back to camp and then go to the border."
Owlface hesitated. "Can Fawnfur come too?"
"StarClan no," Frostshine laughed. "She's a medicine cat. They don't need to go on patrols. go on, Fawnfur, get out of here. I'm sure you have things you'd much rather be doing right now."
She smiled at me and her words, which seemed harsh, made me grateful. I quickly nodded and left. I could feel Owlface's eyes on me as I left. I didn't look back, hoping he would just join the patrol and not follow me at the soonest opportunity.
I seemed to walk in the direction of camp, to dissuade interest if a cat was following, knowing that Owlface and the others would be by after digging up the prey. However the camp was only my halfway point. I had to make it to the ShadowClan border.
I hid beneath the ferns, a gorse bush to my right and a black berry bush to my left. I could smell the sharp pine-scent of ShadowClan in front of me, only fox lengths away. A bare stretch scattered with a few ferns and bushes waited for me before I hit the scent markers.
"I can do this," I muttered to myself, staring at it. Lakefrost had crossed many times already. Why was I too mouse-hearted to even try? I had to find him somehow. It wasn't likely he'd come to me anymore. Not with his Clan watching his every move, waiting for him to cross. I'd seen a few cats walk by already since I'd been sitting by the border. They passed by, not scent marking, but keeping their eyes on our border. I recognized that they were guarding. Making sure no one entered or left the territory. I could almost think they were doing something dangerous like all the old stories say they did. That they'd kill any intruder or witness, no matter how accidental. It made me nervous to even try going over. What would happen if they caught me? Would they think ThunderClan was attacking?
I swallowed. I just had to do this. I slowly stood up, watching for movement, sniffing for fresh scents. Nothing. I walked from my covering, my brown-ginger fur creased as the branches leaned down on me. The sun glinted on my stripes and I felt warm. I slowly walked forward, my eyes darting side to side. My muscles were tense as I waited for the opportunity to dive back into cover, either into the bushes or back to the thick undergrowth behind me.
Then I heard the movement. I froze, my eyes on the ShadowClan side. Suddenly I couldn't move. My legs were locked and I was almost at the border. Should I go over and pray they didn't see me, or run back and try again after they'd left? I didn't have enough time to decide.
The forms came around the tree line, around the few bushes and vines, nearing. I recognized the lead cat by her ginger fur. She spotted me and her golden eye's narrowed.
"You," Mallowstalk hissed, flattening her ears. "What are you doing here?"
Honeybee and Badgerface seemed to loom on either side of her, their eyes watching me.
I lowered, my belly on the ground, my ears against the side of my head. I was outnumbered and at fault. Even a mouse could see that. I wished there was a mouse nearby so I could claim I was hunting. But Mallowstalk knew I wasn't.
"I came to see Lakefrost," I mewed quietly. Perhaps she was shocked at my honesty, but she recovered quickly.
"Go back," she growled. "You've caused enough trouble."
I looked over at her companions, wondering if they felt the same. Honeybee, the golden she-cat couldn't meet my eyes but she didn't seem as worried as in our camp. I believed she felt the same as Mallowstalk: that I was causing Lakefrost all the trouble, getting him punished for no reason. Badgerface, the brown tabby brother, just looked confused, his green eyes bewildered. There were no other cats and I realized I was in the presence of Lakefrost's siblings. Alone.
"I haven't caused anything," I meowed firmly, forcing myself to rise. I was still on my border, they could not attack me.
"My Clan already thinks you and Lakefrost have been meeting secretly," Mallowstalk meowed.
I tried not to twitch an ear. We had of course. There wasn't any other way. We didn't have time to wait until the next Gathering.
"They think you're mates," Mallowstalk meowed bluntly when I didn't react.
Now I blinked. "You're joking."
Honeybee shook her head. "Ashpaw saw you two. He came back as fast as he could and told Fallingstar what he'd seen. Lakefrost wasn't long in coming back. He'd already been punished for going over your border and stealing prey. He wasn't supposed to be there again."
"So now he has to sleep with the apprentices and isn't allowed out of camp without an escort," Mallowstalk meowed. "No one wants to even be with him."
"And he won't listen to us. We're the only ones who are willing to be by his side, but he won't let us help him," Honeybee meowed. She seemed angry now. Her ears up straight, her nose wrinkled, and her teeth bared. I felt my own fur fluff up in reaction.
Mallowstalk brushed her tail down her sister's side. "He shouldn't be ignored by our Clan. It's wrong and we know it isn't his fault. He shouldn't have even been over here if he wasn't so determined to meet with you."
"We can't explain anything," Mallowstalk hissed, her claws out. "Exactly like you can't. No one would believe us."
I blinked. So she was aware of the prophecy. Lakefrost was right. These siblings were the four I was supposed to be working with. But here Mallowstalk was, not offering her help. Not like Lakefrost had.
"Then why aren't you helping me?" I meowed quietly. "My Clan is in danger and you are the only ones that can help."
Mallowstalk's eyes widened. I heard Honeybee gasp and Badgerface let out his breath.
"No," Mallowstalk meowed back. "ThunderClan can handle its own problems. You wouldn't appreciate it."
I looked to see what her siblings thought. A guilty look crossed their faces.
"But we'll be killed," I whispered. "I'd rather be saved and in debt then die. I know my Clanmates feel the same. Even if I was the only one to know, I'd appreciate it."
Mallowstalk snorted. "You don't understand. We're half ThunderClan. If we help you, then we'll be betraying our own Clan. ShadowClan is put first before all others. Why should we help you? If ThunderClan was gone, we'd all be better off."
I gasped, staring at her. She met my eyes, a cold look on her own. I glanced at the others; they didn't even look at me. I knew then even if they didn't completely feel the same as Mallowstalk, they'd side with her only because they didn't see a reason not to. I knew cats like these. They were the followers. Mallowstalk was their leader. Lakefrost had the same qualities, but he held a different position. His siblings might agree with him somewhat, but Mallowstalk made much more sense to them, so they'd follow her and not him.
I suddenly knew, it was her, this ginger she-cat I had to convince. I had to make her see why saving my Clan was important, why she should help me. If I had her on my side, the others would help too.
But how was I supposed to convince her, a cat who was so much against me, believing that I'd ruined her brother?
Check out AlliKatNye's youtube account. She made a new video and this one is about Bluestar's Prophecy. It's really good, just like her one about Scourge and Firestar.