Okay, well, I got my inspiration for this from the Warrior books (naturally) and a story I read called Roses in the Dark by Mistyflower13. It's really good and you should read it if you haven't already. No flames please and I would love you forever if you commented at the end of each chapter. ^.^ okay…well, on with the story!
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from the actual Warrior series. The only things that are mine are the characters and the idea. (:
The outline of a skinny cat was silhouetted on the shore of a lake by the weak shine of the crescent moon, which was all but covered by clouds. A harsh, bitterly cold breeze whipped the long dark gray fur of the cat around, ruffling it uncomfortably. It tilted its face up to the sky, as if somehow hoping the stars above would be reassuring.
The bushes rustled and the cat turned its head slightly, its fur bristling before relaxing. "I should've known you'd be out tonight Hawkstar."
A dark brown tabby tom emerged from the bushes, shaking his head fondly. His matted coat hung limply from his frame, his ribs sticking out horrifyingly. "Of course you would Featherpool," the cat meowed fondly, his voice a deep croak. "You are, of course, the Medicine Cat after all."
Featherpool rolled her eyes and returned to stare at the sky. Hawkstar padded over to her and settled down beside his Medicine Cat. They sat in silence for a while, each in their own thoughts. Finally, Hawkstar broke the silence. "Any sign from StarClan?"
Featherpool dropped her gaze from the stars and glanced at the ThunderClan leader. He looked so forlorn, his amber eyes dull and sad.
"I have had a dream," Featherpool mewed softly. Hawkstar jolted in surprise, his amber eyes flicking to her face.
"What did they show you? Did they say anything at all?" desperation entered his voice.
The she-cat gazed at nothing, remembering the dream in which her warrior ancestors had spoken to her. "They told me something…Echoes of a whisper shall flow across the stream of darkness and save the Clans from perish."
Hawkstar stared at her, jaw gaping open. "Well, what does it mean?" he demanded.
"If I knew I would've told you," Featherpool snapped. "You know how our ancestors speak in riddles!"
He looked evenly at her. "I am not a Medicine Cat Featherpool; I do not know what goes on when you talk to StarClan."
Featherpool bristled, the gray fur lifting off her skinny, taunt spine. "Just because I am a Medicine Cat does not mean I understand and can interpret everything StarClan tells me!" she hissed.
"Well, I didn't know that, did I?" Hawkstar said calmly. His cool, collected voice irritated Featherpool whose patience was already low from lack of food and the sickness spreading through the Clan.
"'Course not," she huffed. "You're a leader." She got to her paws shakily, giving her pelt a shake. "I'm going back; I need all the sleep I can get before tomorrow comes." She turned away but before she could go very far Hawkstar's voice stopped her.
"Have you or Littlewhisker had any luck with the catmint?" he asked suddenly.
Featherpool threw a disgusted glance over her shoulder. "No. And since you won't allow me to ask any of the other Clans for it, cats have died and will continue to do so unless we do something."
Hawkstar's shoulders suddenly sagged and his eyes became weary. "What would you have me do Featherpool?" he asked quietly. "We will soon be at war, tensions are so high. And you expect me to give away our weakness to our enemies?"
"I expect a leader to care for his Clan above all else," she growled, her tail lashing in frustration.
Anger sparkled in Hawkstar's eyes and he rose to his paws. "Are you saying that I do not care for my Clan? Are you implying that I would have cats dying to protect my pride?"
Why can't he understand? Featherpool thought exasperatedly. "Well, that's what it seems like, Hawkstar!"
His eyes narrowed and she knew she was treading on thin ice. He thrust his face close to hers and she forced herself not to flinch. But if I don't tell him the truth, who will? "I will not show weakness to the other Clans, especially not RiverClan. If I even so much as whisper the word Greencough in front of Crowstar, he will launch an attack on us faster than you can think the word mouse. And then we would lose even more cats then we have already."
She stared at him. "Hawkstar, if we let this go on, then there won't even be any cats left to fight when Crowstar does attack us. He will soon, and you know it. All our warriors are already hungry and with the sickness and leaf-bare just beginning-"
"I know what is best for my Clan!" Hawkstar spat. "No cat is worth losing dozens of lives over."
"Not even Brightfeather?" Featherpool murmured, watching her leader recoil. She'd gone way too far, and she knew it; but the proud Medicine Cat just lifted her chin and glared at the tom.
Hawkstar's gaze turned hard at the mention of his mate, who was heavily pregnant with kits and developing Whitecough which could easily turn into Greencough. "Enough," he commanded quietly.
"ENOUGH!" this time he shouted the words and shut Featherpool into a shocked silence. She'd never heard her leader so angry before.
After a long silence, Hawkstar hung his head in despair. "I don't know what to do…" he whispered wretchedly. Her heart went out to the old cat and she padded forward and touched his ear with her nose.
"We must do what is right, Hawkstar. We can't let this go on any longer than it already has."
Green eyes met amber as they looked at each other. Finally, Hawkstar nodded once and meowed, "Alright Featherpool. If this is the will of StarClan then so be it."
She dipped her head respectfully. "Thank you, Hawkstar. Your whole Clan will be grateful."
He blinked sadly. "I just pray to StarClan it's not too late."
They sat together for a few moments before thundering paw steps alerted them of a cat racing towards them. Both cats looked up, startled, when a huge white tomcat burst into the clearing. His blue eyes were wide with fright.
"Whitepelt, what's wrong? Is RiverClan attacking the camp?" Hawkstar demanded, springing to his paws.
Whitepelt shook his head, struggling to breathe as he gasped out, "Bright…feather…kits…coming. "
"What? So soon?" Featherpool exclaimed, getting to her paws. "Are you absolutely sure, Whitepelt?"
"Of course he's sure!" Hawkstar snapped, already racing towards the camp.
The two cats followed him until they reached the brambles that guarded the entrance. Hawkstar pushed his way through, almost taking the clump of brambles with him, and Featherpool and Whitepelt slipped inside. Featherpool sprinted to the nursery where a crowd of cats were already huddled.
"Out of my way, move," she hissed, disappearing inside. When she entered the dim opening, she saw her apprentice, Littlewhisker, bent over a creamy she-cat who lay on her side. Fierce contractions swept over the queen's flank and a bone-jarring cough emitted from the she-cat. The other queen, Jaypath, huddled in the opposite corner with her own kits that were peeking out from behind their mother's tail to see what the commotion was about.
"Littlewhisker, what's going on?" Featherpool asked, thrusting her frame up beside the small tomcat.
"Her contractions started not too long ago and that cough of hers is wearing down her body. Her kits need to come out or else they'll die," Littlewhisker replied, his voice shaking.
She nodded at her apprentice, and then called over her shoulder, "I need a stick for her to bite down on."
Hawkstar appeared in the entrance with a thick stick which he set down in front of his mate. His eyes were wide with fear but her gave Brightfeather's head a quick lick and said reassuringly, "You'll be fine Brightfeather. Featherpool's here now and she'll take care of you."
Brightfeather stared ahead at nothing and most likely didn't even hear the tom. A long wail erupted from her which soon turned into a cough. Littlewhisker pushed the stick towards her and said, "Brightfeather, bite down on this."
Featherpool placed her paw on the queen's matted flank and felt the muscles straining to push out the kits. There was no time to waste. "Okay, Brightfeather, it's time. When I say push, you push like you've never pushed before, you hear me? Your body has already begun to start but your kits need your help if they are going to make it out. Do you understand me?"
Brightfeather nodded once, digging her teeth into the stick. Featherpool flicked her tail at Littlewhisker, motioning for him to situate himself to retrieve the first kit. "Okay, on three. One, two, three push Brightfeather!"
The stick cracked a bit and out slid the first kit. Littlewhisker caught it in his jaws and started to lick it furiously. After a moment it let out a tiny wail and Littlewhisker cried, "It's a little tom!"
Hawkstar let out an uneven purr. "He's beautiful, Brightfeather."
There was no time to dwell on it because soon another contraction took hold and another bundle slid out. After a moment, Littlewhisker purred, "A tiny she-cat. She looks just like you, Brightfeather."
Featherpool moved her paw around but that had been the last kit. "Brightfeather, you did it!" she meowed happily. The two kits were nestled in the curve of their mother's belly. The largest one, the tom, was dark brown while his sister was a creamy color with tiny white paws and ears. Featherpool watched them both to make sure they were latched on to get the correct amount of milk before slumping back against the wall.
"Well down Brightfeather. And you too Littlewhisker," she purred, seeing the tom's eyes light up at her praise.
Hawkstar stared in awe and love at his kin and mate. "They're beautiful. What would you like to name them my sweet?"
Brightfeather looked down at her kits suckling and let out a rusty purr. "How about-" a cough interrupted her.
"Get me some borage," Featherpool yelled to her clan mates outside.
Brightfeather shook her head, still coughing. "No…no borage please."
"But Brightfeather-" Hawkstar protested.
"No. I shall not need it," the queen rasped. With a jolt, Featherpool took in the she-cats thin fur and dull, fevered eyes. She suddenly realized why Brightfeather didn't want the borage.
"Oh StarClan no," the gray Medicine Cat whispered in horror. She shoved her way out of the den, ignoring the cats' meows of surprise. She raced to the Medicine Cat den and frantically pawed through the small stock of herbs. "Please…please…" it wasn't there. Of course it wasn't…that's when she remembered how Hawkstar hadn't allowed any cat to ask for catmint. The herb they needed more than ever now; the herb that would've saved Brightfeather's life.
Oh StarClan…why this cat? She thought in despair, sprinting back to the nursery. She entered to hear Brightfeather saying, "The tom can be named Pinekit, maybe? And maybe the she-cat...Echokit?"
Jaypath purred. "They're both lovely names Brightfeather."
Rowankit, the boldest of Jaypath's kits, peered through her fluffy tail. "But they're so small! They are going to get bigger right?"
Tinykit, his sister, snorted. "Of course they are mousebrain!"
Brightfeather suddenly erupted into a huge fit of hacking and coughing, dislodging Pinekit and Echokit from her stomach. They squealed in shock and tried to find their mother. Hawkstar rested his tail worriedly on his mate's shoulder. "Brightfeather are you okay?"
Featherpool met the she-cat's green gaze and blinked in painful understanding. After her huge bout of coughing, she sighed wearily and looked at her mate. "Hawkstar…"
"What is it, sweet?"
The creamy she-cat let out a weak purr. "I love you. You know that right?"
"Of course I do. What are you…?" suddenly, his breath caught as he realized what was happening. "No…NO! Brightfeather! No, you can't die!"
"I must go…it is StarClan's will that I must," her voice was getting softer and softer.
"NO!" he cried, licking her head fiercely. "You can't leave me!"
"I'll always be with you. Take care of our kits…I love you," she breathed.
"Brightfeather…" the ThunderClan leader rasped in agony. He looked up at Featherpool. "You have to do something!"
Featherpool hung her head. "I'm so sorry…" she whispered, her heart breaking for her leader.
"NO! Please StarClan…" he begged, pushing his nose into his mate's fur.
"Goodbye my love," Brightfeather meowed softly before taking one last shuddering breath and lay still forever.
Hawkstar wailed in grief, his whole body trembling as he stood and staggered out of the den. "STARCLAN WHY?" he howled grief raw in his voice.
Featherpool looked at the cats still in the nursery. "Jaypath you will have to nurse Brightfeather's kits," she instructed, her voice shaking. Jaypath nodded, too shocked to do anything but stare at her friend's body. "Littlewhisker, get some borage to help with the milk."
He nodded, numb, and backed out of the den. Featherpool thrust her muzzle into the queen's fur. Brightfeather, I'm so sorry. I tried but…She squeezed her eyes shut and allowed herself for a moment to be consumed by grief and guilt. Finally, with a huge amount of effort, she pushed away the wall that threatened to suffocate her. She sat up and gently placed Echokit and Pinekit next to Jaypath's three kits.
"Mother, why are they coming over here?" Tangle kit asked innocently.
"Hush now," the blue/gray queen whispered, tucking them all into her belly. Her blue eyes met Featherpool's green ones and the shock was mirrored in both.
Featherpool limped out of the nursery to attend to her wounded leader. She had to push through her mass of emotions. There would be time to grieve later. She stepped into the moonlit camp and saw Hawkstar crumpled on the ground, staring at nothing. The Clan was split into groups, murmuring and eyeing the tabby tom pityingly. With her paws heavy, the Medicine Cat padded across the clearing to the broken-hearted cat.
"Hawkstar…I am so very sorry," she whispered, her voice wavering. She pushed her pelt comfortingly against his and he didn't pull away.
Hawkstar blinked. His eyes were dull and unfocused as her looked at memories only he could see. "What have I done?"
Featherpool glanced at him in alarm. "You did nothing wrong, Hawkstar! How could you possibly had anything to do with what just happened?"
He shook his broad head slowly. "I didn't get the Catmint. If I had then Brightfeather…" his voice cracked and he groaned as if he was in physical pain.
The gray she-cat shook her head furiously, her green eyes hard. "You listen to me Hawkstar. You had nothing to do with Brightfeather dying. Her path was in the paws of StarClan and there was nothing you could do to change that. Do you understand me?"
He looked at her sorrowfully. "What do I do now, Featherpool? Everything has been taken from me."
"No, not everything," she mewed softly. "You have your Clan, you warriors, and your kits."
He stared at her uncomprehendingly. "My…kits?"
She nodded, letting out a soft purr even though her heart felt dead. "Yes, your kits. You can make sure Brightfeather didn't die in vain."
"Teach them the ways of the Code, tell them some stories about their mother, and let them know how great she was. Make them warriors you both would be proud of."
Hawkstar seemed to be thinking about this, looking thoughtful. "But what if I can't?"
Featherpool looked out at the sky that was becoming milky and light with dawn approaching. "I don't know," she answered truthfully. The stars were now fading as the sky got clearer. "But just remember, there's always hope."
Hawkstar scoffed lightly. "Doesn't seem that way."
Featherpool narrowed her eyes as the sounds of the new day reached her ears. Birds chirped from the trees, crickets played the last few notes of their songs, and the squeaky mews of tiny life came from the nursery.
She stood and shook the dust from her ruffled pelt. Her tail hung low to the ground but she felt a small spark of something warm in her heart. "There is always hope, Hawkstar." She closed her eyes and knew that StarClan was watching over her. "You just have to know where to find it."
TA-DA! What'd ya think? The next chapter will be up soon, even if no one reviews…but I hope you do! It would really mean a lot to me. Thanks for reading.