artwork by silverwhisker, do not steal
Ashfur has been posed as nothing more than a monster, a side character meant to essentially strengthen Squirrelflight's ego and resent her family. But, who could blame him? She hangs out with him basically to make Brambleclaw jealous and abuse his kindness before tossing him aside when all that blows over. It's basically a Dustpelt/Sandstorm/Firestar repeat, but with more ferocity. Sorry, but just because Squirrelflight is Firestar's kid doesn't mean she has to be treated like she's the most desirable thing in the world. Note: I do like Squirrelflight as a momma, her relationship with her three adopted kits were adorable but she otherwise irritates me
The events of this fanfiction take place before Hollyleaf attempts to murder Ashfur for discovering the truth behind her parentage. Some characters have been altered: for example, Dustpelt is no longer Ferncloud/Ashfur's uncle because that's wrong. In this fanfiction, Dustpelt is actually the son of Sunstar and an unnamed she-cat.
Chapter 1: Revenge
The faintest scent of smoke still clung to the air. A day had passed since the incidents following the storm, where Ashfur blocked Squirrelflight's kits from escape and she revealed scandalous news: Hollyleaf, Lionblaze, and Jayfeather really weren't her kittens. Naturally, he had threatened to reveal it all at the next gathering, fueled by the rage of Squirrelflight's lies. He simmered by the warrior's den, unusually silent. The warrior allowed his blue eyes to narrow into a cruel glare, with his gaze burning into the muddied earth at his paws.
He flinched when he felt movement beside him, and glanced up in shock to find none other than his littermate, Ferncloud. He had felt resentful towards her as well. Because of his sister, Dustpelt had been negligent in his training. He focused more or less on hanging out with Ashfur's sister, fawning over her, rather than teaching Ashfur the necessary skills to be a warrior. That's how Ashfur's entire life felt: neglected. Used by Dustpelt, and used so mercilessly by Squirrelflight as nothing more than a stepping stool.
"You seem tense." Ferncloud cooed in a soft voice, speaking as gently as she normally did with her own kittens. He missed their kithood, back when everything was just ok. Before Dustpelt stole his sister away, before Squirrelflight abused his kindness, before his entire livelihood seemed to turn against him.
"How can I not be?" The gray spotted tabby tom spoke hastily, sharpness in his tone of voice. "It's like I have nothing. Time and time again, cats have abandoned me. Brambleclaw's father murdered our mother. Squirrelflight used me. Dustpelt took you away from me. I've got nothing left." He didn't feel like throwing a pity party- Ashfur felt as if he'd been kicked in the gut. He didn't want his sister's sympathy. Frankly, the warrior didn't know exactly what he desired, other than to be left alone so he could just...figure his life out.
He wanted Squirrelflight to pay. Who wouldn't? He wanted Brambleclaw to pay. He wanted them all to pay.
"Don't talk like that, Ashfur." He could feel Ferncloud's tail wrap around his thin form, as if the she-cat was attempting to pull her littermate closer. "...Maybe I am head-over-heels for Dustpelt, but I'm grateful. It's because of you that I got to meet him. And you know that I still love you dearly, brother. Maybe I have been neglecting your presence..." She trailed off, feeling guilty.
Ferncloud paused, a small smile lighting up her features. "Why don't we go hunting, just you and I?" She continued to grin at her brother, who didn't seem particularly enthused, but she was dedicated towards dragging him along anyways. "Just like the good old days, Ashfur! It'll be fun, I promise." She continued to try to coax him along, and eventually, Ashfur gave in.
Dustpelt was standing guard, and seemed to be itching to go as soon as he set sights on his mate, but Ferncloud waved him off with her tail. As the brother-and-sister duo headed out together for the first time in moons, Ashfur found his thoughts going elsewhere. The gathering was a half a moon away. He still planned on revealing Squirrelflight's sandal. Firestar's title could defend her traitorous actions no longer. Although Ashfur attempted to plan onwards, he found Ferncloud interrupting his thoughts as her smile faded.
"...I do miss father with all my heart." She seemed suddenly grim, bowing her head to stare at her paws as they trekked along. "...Whitestorm would have been a wonderful grandfather."
Ashfur felt his heart sink. He had loved Whitestorm with all his heart. As an apprentice and kitten, he tried to be brave, tried to be just like his infamous sire. He wanted to be just like his father when he grew up. He couldn't wait to be a warrior to proudly hunt by his father's side, and had even hoped to be named "Ashstorm" in his honor, but...
...BloodClan had taken that away from him as well.
Ashfur still remembered the fateful day, when he witnessed the cruel murder of his father. He had felt so cold afterwards, and he relished in the pride and rush of triumph after he avenged his father by killing Bone. It might have seemed wrong, but it had felt so good...
"...I miss him more than you know." Ashfur replied solemnly, his pale eyes beginning to cloud with grief. It felt like life could have been so different if Whitestorm had still been around. Perhaps he would still have his dignity. Is Whitestorm disappointed in me? He felt his stomach twist itself in knots. He was nothing like his father. He could never live up to his title- ThunderClan looked to Ashfur as if he was a failed legacy of Whitestorm.
"He was always so proud of you." Ferncloud hummed with a glimmer in her eyes, recalling the joys of her innocent kithood. "I remembered watching the two of you practice battle moves. He loved you very much."
"...I loved him to the moon and back." The tom felt his shoulders sag in disappointment. "...He's probably very disappointed in me." Ashfur felt himself come to a halt. Ferncloud slowed her pace and stopped alongside her littermate as well, appearing puzzled as she studied her companion.
"...What do you mean, Ashfur?" She sounded deeply concerned for her brother, but he knew the true emotions behind her masquerade. She feared that he had done something unforgiveable. Perhaps he had.
"I almost let Lionblaze, Jayfeather, and Hollyleaf burn to death in front of Squirrelflight." He felt his body tense, seeing the heavy disappointment in his beloved sister's eyes. "I wanted her to feel what I had felt."
"Oh, Ashfur..." Ferncloud's eyes grew round as she stared at her brother, jaw dropping as she fought to find the words to justify his actions. But there were none there. "...I know she did you bad, Ashfur, the way she treated you was unacceptable. True, Brambleclaw's father killed our mother, but..." She was still in shock, the image of her brother as a potential murderer still flashing in the depths of her astute mind. "-...killing other cats isn't ok. I mean- you didn't, and I'm proud that you made the right choice to let them go."
She still seemed to be struggling to find her words. Guilt pricked Ashfur's stomach. He had so much bottled-up rage, and generally nobody to express himself to. He was glad that Ferncloud was willing to walk and talk with him, despite his bitter attitude and horrible actions. I'm glad one of us turned out right...
"Look, Squirrelflight didn't deserve you, Ashfur. Don't tell anybody I said this, but she's not the nicest cat. You deserve a she-cat who'll treat you kindly, respect your dedication and heart of gold buried underneath that gruff exterior." Ferncloud gently shoved her brother with her delicate set of shoulders. "...I mean, I'd happily play matchmaker for you-"
"No. No need to do that." He managed to twitch his whiskers in amusement. "...But I can't help but be angry. I showed her kindness. I don't open up to many cats, Ferncloud."
He felt his littermate gently touch her nose to his cheek in a comforting fashion. "I know, brother. You're a good warrior, just a little rough around the edges. Know that no matter what happens, no matter what others say, I will always see goodness in you. You're everything that Whitestorm would have wanted you to be." Ferncloud pulled away to offer Ashfur a heartwarming smile. "...I know that he's very, very proud of you."
Ashfur could feel the ice melting around his heart when Ferncloud made that comment about their father. She understood better than any other that Whitestorm had meant the world to him. "...Thank you, Ferncloud. Nobody's ever said anything so kind."
His sister seemed to suddenly grown silent. The warrior glanced over at the perma-queen expectantly, patiently waiting for her to admit what was on her mind this time. "...I hope it doesn't upset you, know that we're finally getting to get out and about and converse..." Ferncloud stared hard at her paws, furrowing her brows as she prepared to break the news. "...Dustpelt and I are expecting kits again. I know it's a bit of a surprise- we weren't planning on another litter after Foxpaw and Icepaw." She looked over at him apologetically. He knew that this would mean less time spent with his sister, again.
"...Congrats." Ashfur tried to force himself to be happy for the queen, but joy was hard to come by. His sister must have detected such, as Ferncloud immediately touched her nose to her brother's cheek.
"...I know you're upset that you won't get to spend time with me again." The spotted she-cat murmured before she slowly pulled away to stare her brother stoically in the eyes. She meant what she was about to say. "Ashfur, Dustpelt hasn't been doing well. Jayfeather says his lungs aren't as good as they once were- he's been very susceptible to greencough, so he can't be around the kits much. I want you to be there for them as their uncle. I want you to help me raise your nieces and nephews. Will you do that?"
He was in shock. He was never much of an uncle for his sister's other kittens, and considering that he just admitted that he nearly committed murder, he expected the polar opposite from Ferncloud. She...trusted him that much, to help her raise such delicate kits? "I..." Ashfur didn't know what to say.
"I want to help you show ThunderClan that you're capable of being a good cat. I want to bring the good out of you again, brother."
Chapter 2: Carpe Noctem
Dusk had fallen, and it was the night before the Gathering. New noises in the nursery had kept the gray tom awake at night, new squeaks of new little friends. Ashfur had cautiously greeted his new nieces and nephews, while Dustpelt lingered outside the nursery with nothing but a cold glare to send in Ashfur's direction. To the dark brown tom, Ferncloud's brother was not welcomed there. But the kind she-cat had insisted on allowing her brother inside, and so he was allowed to meet the new kits strictly because of her kindness. Ashfur couldn't resist returning the glare as he slid inside.
Three little furballs lined his sister's belly, a sight he'd seen before. This wasn't Ferncloud's first litter, although she was certain that it'd be her last. She wished to focus on other queens and their kits instead, once her newest additions became apprentices. She swore by it this time.
"...How are you feeling?" Really, he hadn't visited them when they were this young before. More often than not, when he met his sister's kits, it was because they were older and attempting to poke their noses into his business. He had regarded them bitterly more often than not- he did everything within his power to avoid such tender moments. It meant weakness. Weakness would be exploited, as Squirrelflight had done to him before.
"...Happy." Ferncloud decided softly, brushing the backs of her kittens gently with her ash-colored tail. "I'm so happy you came to visit me, brother. I need your help, actually." The dappled queen's gaze dropped once more to the youngsters, her eyes gentle and filled with adoration that any good mother might have. At once, Ashfur began to shift from paw to paw. She needed his help? Was...everything ok? He wasn't good with kits- she should probably ask Jayfeather or Daisy for help, really.
"What is it? Are you feeling ok?" He didn't want to reveal his concern in such a public place. Ashfur wanted to remain strong, to reassure his clanmates that they wouldn't go breaking his heart again. He worked hard to build up emotional barriers ever since Squirrelflight tore him apart. He intended to keep those barriers up.
"Oh no- I'm fine, don't worry." Ferncloud flashed him a reassuring smile before she returned her focus once more to the kits. "...No, it would seem that I've run out of ideas for names."
Ugh. He forced himself to take a few steps closer before peering down at the furballs once more. Admittedly, they were quite cute, they reminded him of itty bitty baby rabbits, so soft-looking. They'd make nice pillows to rest his head on. Ferncloud probably wouldn't appreciate him doing that, however.
"I was able to name the two brothers." Ferncloud continued on, hoping to further rope her brother in. "Scorchkit, for the black-furred tom. And for his brown spotted tabby brother, I liked the name 'Twigkit'. What do you think?"
"They're good names," Ashfur simply agreed with her suggestions because he had no ideas himself. What was she trying to get him to do? He could feel himself fading out of the scene, getting lost in his own bitter thoughts as he recalled when Squirrelflight was in the nursery, with what had supposedly been Bramblestar's spawn.
"...But my only daughter," Ferncloud had to shift so the little she-cat could be more visible- her gray fur practically blended with her mothers. At the sight of his only niece, Ashfur's shoulders visibly slumped. "...I have no name for her, Ashfur. I'd like you to name her for me."
She looked just like his mother, Brindleface. Ashfur wasn't able to know the she-cat for long, until Tigerstar ruthlessly used the queen as a pawn in one of his many cruel games. But he knew that he loved his mother, he knew that she had been a very good cat. Life had merely been unfair to her. Instantly, Ashfur felt that it was his duty to protect the kits, to keep them safe so they could avoid any similar fate. He didn't understand the feeling- it was a sensation most foreign to him, but it only felt right. "Brindlekit." Ashfur decided at long last, the words coming out in a soft, mournful murmur. "Brindlekit...in honor of her grandmother."