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Batteredandbruised

I guess it all started when I was a kit and she blamed me for the medicine cat's den. My apprenticeship was delayed for a half-moon, which then seemed so long, and I was forever under her command. She was only one moon older than me, and she claims to have been in love with me from the moment I left my mother's womb.

She told me that she loved me for as long as I can remember. She told me that she would dedicate her life for me and I should, too. She forced me to reply "I love you, too," whenever she told me so, and for a long time I believed I did love her. We would sneak behind the nursery as kits, and, with the sun reflecting off of her shiny white fur, we would say our vows. I would vow to be her mate when the time came, and in return she would be mother to kits. It seemed like a great deal at the time.

When leaf-bare came when we were apprentices, who else would I seek out to stay warm during the cold nights? When I didn't have the stomach to eat another bite of prey, who else would I give it to? Her, of course, and if I thought any differently for a heartbeat I would surely be punished. I would help her carry back her prey, she would nuzzle my side.

Those were my days as a young tom. Now we have two kits-turned-apprentices and once a moon she tells me that I need to have some bonding time with them, since spending time with them in the nursery each day wasn't enough. The pair could not care less about time spent with me. They only want to train to be warriors.

Which must explain my missteps in the last quarter-moon.

It was all quite simple: she asked if I would enjoy some relief from my mate's overprotective stance over me and go hunting with her. I happily agreed, looking forward to some free time out in the forest with a friendly cat for a change. I hadn't felt happier in moons.

What happened in the forest is the reason why I am now under my Clan leader's investigation. It is the reason why my loyal mate and our kits hate me. It is the reason why my Clan mates scorn me and it is the reason why I no longer have any friends.

For reasons I cannot explain I fell in love with my friend for a brief moment. Or, as my mate puts it, a brief moment long enough to begin an affair that would have continued unless she hadn't found me and put an end to it.

Once when I turned away from a heated conversation with her that went in this fashion, I ran straight into the she-cat I had an affair with. Her face looked desperate, so I remained standing before her.

"I'm sorry," she told me, "for what's been happening. I can't stand this! You're a good cat, I know you are, and this happening just completely and totally discredits you." She licked her chest fur in an effort to remain more calm as I just stared at her.

"I'm going to leave," she told me. "And I want you to come with me. We can live by the lake for a few days and steal from ThunderClan territory while we figure out what to do, but then I think we should leave forever. This has been going on too long."

I still had not spoken. I stared into her eyes, broken and sad, for a long time. Then I made a decision. "Tomorrow night. At moonhigh."

"Why so long?" she asked me.

"Maybe things will work out so we don't have to leave," I informed her.

But they didn't. The next day we got even more hated looks if it was possible. Cats were beginning to ignore us completely. My Clan, one I was so loyal to for so long, was shutting me out, forcing me to leave.

We found a tree that was almost hollowed out at the bottom and spent the night there, but in the morning she had disappeared. I was left alone, totally and completely, and nothing could ever save me.

At least, until I woke up the next morning.

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