(Spoilers for Bramblestar’s Storm & anything around that I suppose)
Written by Eagleclaw
My FanFiction.net Account: https://www.fanfiction.net/~ukeagleclaw
I’ve produced another heart-wrenching one-shot. It’s a bit of a longer one, but if you’re a fan of my previous work, I’d definitely recommend reading it. It is inspired by Aspenflame’s love of Littlecloud. And is set about let’s say 6 moons or so before A Vision of Shadows: The Apprentice’s Quest. Let’s hope there’s not any grammar problems, I had two edit checks so it should be all chill for you peeps. Without further ado, enjoy. 😀
Leafpool gazed around the medicine cat den, Jayfeather was out collecting herbs. The only herbs that were currently of any value were catmint, chickweed, coltsfoot, lavender, and tansy; these herbs were primarily used for coughs. Battles had been few and far between, since the storm, following the Dark Forest battle. Unlucky training injuries were the only type Leafpool and Jayfeather had to cure, as well as herbs to help the nursing queens. The seasons had been good to ThunderClan. Bramblestar’s reign as leader had ushered in a new age of prosperity for the Clans. Vengeful, Onestar had stayed peaceful, despite his previous hostility. Even ShadowClan had remained calm under Rowanstar’s leadership.
“Leafpool, have you got anything for damaged pads?” a golden-brown tabby tom with a graying muzzle winced. He lifted up one of his front-paws; the protective layer looked eroded.
“Are they getting worse?” Leafpool asked. She fetched some dock and started to chew it up.
“Yes, I think so,” Brackenfur responded, gritting his teeth.
In between chewing, Leafpool mewed, “You should think about becoming an elder soon.”
Leafpool started to apply the dock to Brackenfur’s paws; silence stretched between them, Brackenfur was unsure whether or not to answer.
“If I become an elder,” Brackenfur stuttered.
“Go on,” Leafpool urged.
“I’ll think more… about Sorreltail and all the other cats I’ve lost,” Brackenfur confessed.
Leafpool felt her own heart tinge with sadness, Sorreltail was her close friend for many seasons before her death. Following the Dark Forest battle, she died from wounds suffered in the battle. Instead of getting her wounds checked, she was reassuring her kits. She was regarded by ThunderClan as a great mother; she had been very popular among all ages of the Clan. Leafpool had recovered from her death, but she couldn’t imagine what it was like for Brackenfur, whose life had been devoted to her.
Brackenfur’s sister and Leafpool’s mentor, Cinderpelt had died long ago, after the badger attack. Grief still clouded Leafpool over the death of Cinderpelt. But she was reborn as Cinderheart and allowed to live out her dream, which had been taken from her cruelly by Tigerstar. However, Cinderpelt’s spirit left Cinderheart’s, finally reaching StarClan, after the Dark Forest battle.
Leafpool still felt some responsibility for Molepaw’s death, his cough failed to react to any of her herbs. Catmint even failed to work. Perhaps if there have been more time, a cure could have been found, but the cough took hold too quickly, and he died within a few sunrises.
Honeyfern, Brackenfur’s daughter, heroically died saving Briarlight, then a kit, from a snake throwing herself in the way and taking the bite herself. She was remembered as a true warrior of ThunderClan.
When the worst of the storms hit ThunderClan’s camp, flooding the camp, Seedpaw saved his sister Lilyheart, then an apprentice, from drowning by biting ivy that was tangled around her leg, but Seedpaw drowned unable to reach the surface in time.
Brackenfur had suffered so much death, like most current cats that had survived the Dark Forest battle.
Leafpool gently brushed her tail against Brackenfur’s back. “Don’t worry they're waiting for you in StarClan.”
“Are you certain?” Brackenfur pleaded.
“Yes,” Leafpool soothed. “I’ve seen them all among the ranks of StarClan. Don’t worry.”
Brackenfur looked a little bit more positive now. “Thank you Leafpool.”
“I’ll think about becoming an elder,” Brackenfur answered, and he continued cheekily, “You know Leafpool, you aren’t too much younger than I am.”
Brackenfur was right, she’d seen a lot and lived to tell many tales, but she still felt she had a lot to give her Clan. “Possibly,” Leafpool reflected. “But I’m not the one fighting in battles or going out on patrols every day,” Leafpool continued. “Just think about it, okay?”
“I will,” Brackenfur replied instantly.
“And stay in camp don’t damage that pad anymore,” Leafpool instructed.
Brackenfur flicked his tail in response, as he exited the medicine cats’ den.
Leafpool went back to sorting herbs, whilst Jayfeather was out collecting, she was seeing which ones would need to be replaced. The juniper berries were looking old and so was the watermint. Hopefully, we don’t have to use the watermint anytime soon. Watermint was often used by the Clans to mask the scent of a cat after death; it was a key burial herb.
She realised that they were running out of parsley, this brought back memories; she would take a leaf a day until she no longer had any milk remaining. No one realised that Squirrelflight wasn’t their mother until it was revealed by Hollyleaf at a Gathering. It was unlikely anyone would need parsley she decided, but they might as well stock up just in case.
Suddenly Leafpool heard a yowling noise from beyond her den, “Bramblestar! Bramblestar!”
Leafpool left the medicine cats’ den, sunhigh light shone into her eyes. It took her eyes a few heartbeats to realise what was happening. Leafpool had presumed that one of the patrols had found something and came to report it back to Bramblestar. She saw a cream pelt hidden by a large crowd of ThunderClan cats. It must be Berrynose; she detected another strange scent, ShadowClan!
Has Berrynose captured someone from ShadowClan? The Clans have been at peace for moons! What was the ShadowClan apprentice doing on ThunderClan’s territory? This could start a war! Great StarClan!
Worse still, a lot of the ThunderClan warriors looked like they were itching for a fight Dewnose, Ambermoon, Snowbush, Bumblestripe, Poppyfrost, Thornclaw, and Cloudtail flexed their claws and offered yowls of encouragement to Berrynose. Leafpool realised these were some of the cats that hadn’t fought in the Dark Forest battle. Poppyfrost was Berrynose’s mate she had to support him, although, she seemed very happy about it. But some had fought in it like Bumblestripe, Thornclaw, and Cloudtail. Leafpool wasn’t too surprised by Thornclaw and Cloudtail they’d always been quick tempered cats, but Bumblestripe he’d always been kind and gentle. Why was he supporting Berrynose? She lashed her tail in frustration, battle doesn’t solve anything, and every cat should know this by now, surely?
However, some of the warriors looked more subdued Hollytuft, Stormcloud, Dovewing, Ivypool, Blossomfall, Lionblaze, Cinderheart, and Mousewhisker all watched with concerned looks from various positions in the camp. Hollytuft and Stormcloud were some of the newer warriors, but they didn’t support their former den-mates instead they chatted among themselves, casting doubtful glares towards them. Dovewing and Mousewhisker were in the crowd of gathered cats but were shaking their heads at Berrynose. Ivypool and Blossomfall spoke in hushed voices, they had been in the Dark Forest together, and they knew what fighting and death had done to the Clans. Lionblaze and Cinderheart had their tails twinned, after realising their love they had been inseparable. Leafpool’s heart filled with endless pride. Would Cinderheart soon be expecting Lionblaze’s kits?
Meanwhile, Brackenfur, Millie, Sandstorm, Graystripe, and Purdy watched from outside the elder’s den with narrowed silted eyes.
Berrynose looked smug that he’d managed to attract such attention from the gathered cats. “I’ve got a ShadowClan apprentice,” Berrynose mewed proudly. “He was sneaking around our territory.” Berrynose paused, waiting for his supporters to yowl support, which they did with enthusiastic yowls. “We should attack them, while we have the element of surprise!”
“You’re crazier than a fox in a fit.” Ivypool had edged into the gathered crowd with Blossomfall at her side. “We learnt before that fighting doesn’t solve anything.”
Berrynose stared back defiantly. “We can’t keep forgiving them when they cross our borders.”
Dovewing stood up from where she was in the crowd. “Fighting just isn’t the answer. Even you should know that by now Berrynose.”
“Sometimes you’ve got to fight, isn’t that right Dovewing?” Bumblestripe challenged, his normal gentle voice was tainted with hatred.
Dovewing’s blue eyes flashed with hurt as she sat back down into the crowd, unwilling to argue with her former mate further in front of the entire Clan.
“All this bloodshed isn’t worth it Berrynose,” Brackenfur mewed as he limped towards the gathered cats. “Have you forgotten the Dark Forest battle? What about Firestar, Mousefur, Foxleap, Ferncloud, Hollyleaf, and Sorreltail? Because I remember every single one of them, it’s not just something you forget!”
Graystripe padded forward towards Brackenfur, using his tail to lead him back towards the small clearing outside the elder’s den. However, harsh his words were, Brackenfur was right, Berrynose is too quick to forget what happened, thought Leafpool.
“Don’t be stupid Berrynose,” Bramblestar bellowed with alarm. “That’s Littlecloud’s apprentice.” Bramblestar had been watching from Highledge alongside Squirrelflight, but mustn’t have recognised him till Berrynose and his captive had swayed closer to him.
Puddlepaw! What in StarClan is he doing here?
“All of you get back to work,” Bramblestar ordered. “This apprentice is of no threat to us.”
“Why are you here?” Squirrelflight questioned.
“I must speak to Leafpool!” Puddlepaw growled, he could finally respond now he was away from Berrynose’s side.
She lunged through the remaining gathered cats and greeted the brown-and-white tom, “What’s wrong?” Leafpool asked immediately.
“It’s Littlecloud… He’s dying,” cried Puddlepaw. “He asked me to find you, he wants to see you.”
“Littlecloud’s dying!” Leafpool exclaimed. Littlecloud was one of the oldest living cats in the Clans, but this still seemed too sudden. “How?” Leafpool gasped. “He was fine when I saw him at the Gathering.”
“Greencough its taken hold he’s too old to fight it off,” Puddlepaw responded. “He doesn’t have much time left, we must hurry,” Puddlepaw begged, looking up towards Bramblestar, who’d been watching vigilantly from Highledge.
“Of course,” Bramblestar pointed his tail towards the entrance. “I’ll tell Jayfeather where you’ve gone and Brightheart’s around in case any emergencies happen.”
“Thank you,” Leafpool quickly responded before, chasing Puddlepaw out of camp.
Frost gripped the grass but that didn’t stop them. Quick as lightning, they darted between the trees and through the dense undergrowth. It warmed them up, stopping the cold from gripping them any further. They jumped a small stream with ease but tiredness slowed them down as they neared the ShadowClan border.
Puddlepaw was beginning to lag behind. “Are you okay Puddlepaw?” Leafpool questioned, stopping to allow him to catch up.
Leafpool could tell that Puddlepaw was tired; he could hear his breath, flowing rapidly, beside her. To Leafpool’s surprise a determined gleam lit his amber eyes. “I’m fine,” Puddlepaw panted. “We must make it to Littlecloud in time,” Puddlepaw vowed. “I promised him we would, and we’re not failing now.”
Puddlepaw took the lead, as they entered the pineland and marshes that belonged to ShadowClan. They quickly got through the pines and were nearing ShadowClan’s camp.
They were just outside the thorn tunnel of ShadowClan’s camp, when Puddlepaw mewed, “Leafpool, I need to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
His whiskers twitched uncertainly. “Well…” Puddlepaw hesitated, clearly unsure whether or not to tell his secret to her.
“What is it Puddlepaw?” Leafpool demanded. What was Puddlepaw not telling her?
“I didn’t have time to tell Rowanstar that Littlecloud wanted to see you,” Puddlepaw admitted, his ears twitched nervously as he did so.
“It doesn’t matter,” Leafpool told him. “We’re medicine cats, he can’t deny StarClan.
“I hope you’re right,” Puddlepaw sighed as he led Leafpool into the thorn tunnel.
“You’re back!” some cat exclaimed happily. Leafpool’s view was blocked by Puddlepaw’s brown-and-white pelt. But when she was through, she saw Puddlepaw being harassed by a black she-cat. “Where were you?”
“Don’t worry I’m okay, Pinenose.” Puddlepaw mewed, dodging Pinenose as she attempted to lick his fur.
“Are you okay?” Pinenose continued.
Puddlepaw puffed out his chest. “Of course I am, I’m a medicine cat,” he calmly mewed. “No cat can touch me.”
“Why is she with you?” Leafpool spotted Rowanstar marching towards her. “Have you come to spy on us?” he accused.
Puddlepaw interjected. “Littlecloud asked me to fetch her,” Puddlepaw responded calmly, not fazed by his leader’s aggressive tone.
“I didn’t let you do that,” Rowanstar hissed in outrage. Leafpool could tell that Rowanstar was infuriated by the medicine cat apprentice’s lack of discipline. Pinenose looked on worried that her son would dare defy a Clan leader.
“Medicine cats don’t have borders Rowanstar,” Leafpool blinked. “You know that.”
A tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes stepped in. “Don’t be stupid Rowanstar,” she mewed. “Medicine cats are StarClan’s messengers. They are allowed to go where they please for the good of all cats regardless of their Clan.”
“But Tawnypelt some leader has to try to enforce borders around here,” Rowanstar growled.
“That’s for another day,” Tawnypelt replied evenly. “For now if Littlecloud wants to see Leafpool let him, he’s dying. He deserves whatever he wants right now and if that’s to see Leafpool let him.” Tawnypelt gestured her tail towards the medicine cat den. “Go,” Tawnypelt urged.
Rowanstar looked angry to be overruled by his mate in public but accepted that she was right. “Fine,” Rowanstar admitted his voice softened, “You better be quick, he’s not got much time left.”
Leafpool nodded silent thanks towards Tawnypelt and headed into the medicine cat’s den. She felt awful, sickness hung in the air. She felt the entrance sway as Puddlepaw followed her inside.
Looking towards Littlecloud’s nest, Leafpool saw him curled up, his pelt hung to his bones. He looked frailer than she’d ever seen him before. Littlecloud was known for being small, but he wasn’t much bigger than a kit about to be made an apprentice. Is he already dead? Am I too late?
“Don’t worry Leafpool I’m not dead yet,” Littlecloud wheezed softly.
Puddlepaw immediately fetched him some water soaked moss and poured it into his mouth. “I’m glad you made it,” Littlecloud continued slowly.
Leafpool leaned towards him, and embraced him. “How long have you been like this? You should have sent word to me sooner.”
“We both know it’s my time Leafpool,” Littlecloud admitted, coughing as he did so. “Besides, I’ve served my Clan for many seasons longer than I ever hoped was possible. StarClan has blessed me with a great long life, I’ve got no regrets, and I must accept that my time is nearly up. It’s pointless to deny our destinies. You know this too.”
Leafpool nodded, she knew. Falling in love with Crowfeather was never planned, nor having three beautiful kits that saved the Clans Jayfeather, Lionblaze, and Hollyleaf. Further grief made her tremble, Hollyleaf, her daughter had also perished in the Dark Forest battle. In her dying moments, she and Hollyleaf had reconciled, Hollyleaf telling her she had been a good mother, and was glad she’d gotten to know her since returning from her self-imposed exile. Leafpool thought of her every day, but she remained comforted by the thought of getting to know her daughter more in StarClan, once it was her time.
“I must thank your father again once I reach StarClan Leafpool,” Littlecloud coughed. “If it wasn’t for Cinderpelt and Firestar, I’d be dead right now as well as the whole of ShadowClan. I’m glad that Cinderpelt was able to live her dream through Cinderheart.” A more violent cough paralysed Littlecloud, nearly draining the strength from him. “I hope my debt was repaid, I owe ThunderClan more than I can imagine.”
“It was. It was,” Leafpool comforted. “Cinderpelt valued you’re friendship for as long as she lived, and I have as well.”
Littlecloud turned weakly towards his apprentice. “Puddlepaw, you are destined to be a great medicine cat. You just need to follow the right path” Littlecloud instructed. Pebblepaw had been at Littlecloud’s side touching his head with cool watery moss, in a vain attempt to revive his health. He lifted his small head and met Littlecloud’s gaze. “Puddlepaw, go tell Rowanstar’s its time.”
“But Littlecloud.” Puddlepaw pleaded.
“Please go Pubblepaw. I need to tell Leafpool something alone.” Littlecloud’s eyes flashed with new found energy. “Farewell, my apprentice.”
“Okay,” Pubblepaw conceded. “Goodbye, Littlecloud,” he mewed as he exited the den his shoulders were slumped in sorrow.
Littlecloud touched Leafpool’s paw with his own and leaned towards her as much as he could and looked into her eyes. “StarClan lied to us. I forgive them for it. As it wasn’t an easy secret to keep, but nonetheless. They told me something else. I must share it with you.”
Leafpool nodded in uncertainty, she was unsure whether or not she wanted Littlecloud to continue further.
“There is another,” Littlecloud rambled. “A Clan far away, called SkyClan, they were cast out countless seasons ago in the old forest. Firestar and Sandstorm went to revive them.”
“What? What are you talking about?” Leafpool dubiously gasped. How could there be another Clan, no one but StarClan knew about.
How could her warriors ancestors lie about something so important? Were the Clans based on a lie? How could there be another Clan? It’s impossible?
“It’s true, all of it, every single bit of it.” Littlecloud rasped as if sensing Leafpool’s doubt. “ShadowClan, ThunderClan, WindClan, RiverClan, StarClan. That’s only five. There are six. There is SkyClan.”
Leafpool stood there stunned.
“It’s time for them to return, Leafpool,” Littlecloud croaked ominously, the light fading from his eyes. Suddenly the light returned as Littlecloud’s body shook like a leave in the wind. “Embrace what you find in the shadows, for only they can the sky,” Littlecloud gasped. His tiny tabby body gave one last jolt, before the light fully disappeared from his eyes.
Leafpool licked his head. “May StarClan light your path, old friend.” Her heart felt numb with grief. It never got easier. The number of cats she loved that joined StarClan were increasing by the moon.
Leafpool turned her head toward the ShadowClan medicine cat den’s entrance; a broad shouldered, ginger tom blocked it. “Is he dead?” Rowanstar asked quietly.
“Yes, he walks among the stars,” Leafpool sadly mewed.
“He was a great medicine cat,” Rowanstar bowed his head. “His Clan will never forget him. ShadowClan will always remember how he was one of the greatest medicine cats the Clans have ever known.”
I did some Brackenfur grieving for Sorreltail, I’ve not read Bramblestar’s Storm in a year or so, I think. Therefore if it was brought up there, I apologize, but I feel the bit at the start goes well, and it’s nice to focus a bit on Brackenfur. And it develop on all family he has, which now reside in StarClan. Besides, he deserves some spotlight!
I had Rage Bumble Rage to show a different side of his character towards Dovewing.
Also a bit of subtle IvyxBlossom, I’m not sure what I’d prefer to happen with Ivypool, but I wanted someone with her in this chapter. However, I think we can all agree in hoping that the Erins keep her as one of the best and most relevant cats in AVoS.
And I thought I’d have Littlecloud usher some of the words on the blurb of TAQ, probably the new prophecy to Leafpool to add some tension and increase that HYPE meter.
I’d say that Littlecloud would have been taken to StarClan by Cinderpelt. Anyone else got any other opinions?
Overall, I was aiming for this to be about 2,000 words, and it ended up being like 3,000 words, but I’m happy with it overall, as it covers a few different scenes and characters.
Please tell me if you enjoyed it and what you thought. Any feedback however little is greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch for reading guys! 😀