Rain. Lightning. Thunder. The young she-cat, her pelt the color of the heavy storm clouds, struggles through the wind. The tiny kit grasped in her jaws mewls and struggles. The cat runs faster, tiny droplets richocheting around with every pawstep. Finally, Twolegplace looms in front of them. The kit is shivering with cold by now, its rain-slicked fur the same color as its mother's. A bright blue Twoleg den is closest to them, so the she-cat hurries there, her kit's eyes drowsy with sleep. She gently places it on the soft pelt in front of the entrance. Her heart nearly breaks, seeing the tiny, vulnerable she-kit all alone. But the mother knows that it's for the best. The kit, almost asleep, notices that its mother is walking away and mews pitifully. The she-cat turns around to see the kit one last time, to just have those playful golden eyes meet hers once more. But the tiny bundle of fur is asleep already. The mother turns her head and walks away, and doesn't stop until she's stumbled back into the Clan. The sleeping cats there have no idea the kit ever existed. But the mother knows. She will always know.

Ivythorn woke up with a start, breathing heavily. Will there ever be a time when I don't relive that awful night? she wondered. Pain weighs on her heart, even after all these seasons.

"Ivythorn, are you all right? Bad dreams again?" inquired a voice from in front of her. She whirled around to find Smokepaw, her apprentice, standing in front of her, his eyes wide and curious.

"Yes. Yes, more bad dreams," she replied, turning away from him toward the herbs.

"What about?" he asked.

"I'd rather not say," Ivythorn answered coldly, pawing the watermint into a neat pile.

"Just like every night, right? What's so secret that you dream about?" the bouncy young apprentice asked.

"Nothing. I don't want to talk about it. Go play with Tansypaw, will you?" she snapped, referring to Smokepaw's sister.

"Oh- okay. Sorry, Ivythorn," he said, padding out of the medicine den, head down. She instantly felt bad and hurried out to talk to him, but he had already disappeared into the apprentice den. The medicine cat slinked back in her den, flopping tiredly onto her nest.

She could imagine Coalglow scolding her: After we lost our only kit, now you're taking out your anger on others? I died defending SilverClan. Are you really making trouble in my Clan now, when you're its medicine cat?

Ivythorn jerked to her feet. For a heartbeat, she could see a glimmering outline of her old mate flickering in front of her. "C- Coalglow?" she stammered, bounding toward him. He faded away with a last twitch of his tail.

She sank to her haunches, closing her eyes.

"It must be a sign from StarClan," she murmered to herself, "but about what? What?"

Then it hit Ivythorn like lightning. She had to find her kit. StarClan themselves were telling her it was the right thing to do, and even though she broke one of the most serious rules in the warrior code, she still believed in StarClan's will. The idea seemed mouse-brained, though. How could she go back to Twolegplace? The last time she had, all those seasons ago, she had managed to sneak out when her Clanmates were sleeping. That night, the kit was only a few sunrises old. Ivythorn had kept her hidden in the medicine den for those sunrises, but Ivythorn knew that she couldn't keep her much longer then that. With her father dead, and her mother a medicine cat, the kit had no chance of surviving in the Clan. But in Twolegplace... with just the right Twolegs... the kit could grow up happy and well-fed, with no memory of the few days she spent in SilverClan. So that was what Ivythorn did, left her at the front of a Twoleg den which already had two kittypets inside.

But now... now it would be near impossible. Her "kit" would be a kit no longer. She would be apprentice age, and used to her sheltered life at Twolegplace. And even if Ivythorn pursuaded her to come, what then? Pebblestar would never allow a medicine cat's kit, much less the medicine cat, back into the Clan.

But Ivythorn had to go. It was StarClan's will.

She would go that night.

The rest of the day was spent gathering traveling herbs and replenishing her stocks. Finally, she had a neat pile of a couple herbs she would need for the journey, and night was falling. Careful not to wake the sleeping Smokepaw, she ate them quickly, swallowing down the bitter taste, and slipped out of camp.

She still remembered the way to go. How could she possibly forget? Ivythorn raced through the trees all night, passing a couple horseplaces, wide fields, and other Twolegplaces until the Twolegplace once again loomed in front of her. The sun was rising steadily over the trees and the birds were beginning to chirp, but the lights in the Twoleg dens stayed dark. Ivythorn padded up to the fence around the blue den, wary of the huge black monster sleeping only a couple fox-lengths ahead of her. She looked up, trying to find a way to get over. But before she could do anything, she heard a rustle from behind the fence. She jumped up, trying to see a glimpse of what it was. The rustling continued.

Ivythorn meowed, "Hello?"

But before she had a chance to say anything else, a blue-grey blur came hurtling over the fence and landed squarely on top of Ivythorn. The two of them tumbled back across the grass. The strange cat was pummeling Ivythorn with her paws, yet her claws were sheathed.

"Stop!" Ivythorn snapped, throwing the cat off. The grey cat rolled away and jumped to her paws. Almost instantly, Ivythorn recognized her. It was in her slight stature, her almond-shaped gold eyes, her twitching tail with the little white tip.

"My daughter," Ivythorn whispered, her voice hoarse with disbelief. "My kit."

"What are you saying? Who are you?" the she-cat asked, tilting her head to the side, like Ivythorn often did.

"My name- my name is Ivythorn. I'm here to tell-"

"Hi, Ivythorn! My name's Dakota. I live here, with my housefolk and their other cats. Their names are Poppy and Annabell. The cats, I mean, not the housefolk!"

"Hello, Dakota," Ivythorn answered, trying to keep calm. "I have something to tell you."