Special thanks to Brighty for the cover! <3
(NOTE: Firey and Red collaborated until Chapter Seven, in which Red left the wiki so Firey took over for the rest of the story)
(credit to Arti for actually writing this scene, though it is worded differently)
"Snowflight!" Stormflight shrieked as he hurtled into the clearing. "What in the name of StarClan are you doing here?" He snarled when he saw Lionwing hovering over Shadowsong, who was yowling in pain.
The golden she-cat whirled around to stare at him. "Oh you. That tom who stole my sister." She stalked towards him, her eyes menacing.
Shadowsong screeched at him. "Get out of here, Stormflight!" But the tom stared defiantly back at Lionwing and held his ground.
Behind the murderous she-cat, Snowflight's front paw was on the ground next to Shadowsong, who had her legs dangling over the edge. Stormflight gulped nervously as the she-cat began to pull herself up, with the help of Shadowsong.
Lionwing had lunged for Stormflight, but the tom easily rolled out of the way and bit her paw. She grunted softly, and tussled with him. He thought about Snowflight and began to fight harder. He twisted and snarled in her ear. "You're never going to get away with this." Lionwing only laughed softly.
"Oh I will..."
But as they fought, Stormflight got the upper hand. His paw wrapped around Lionwing, and he kicked her hard. She groaned and lay limp as Stormflight scrambled over her and pinned her down. He was panting, and he heard Snowflight whisper. "Stormflight..."
Glancing back at the sisters, Stormflight sighed in relief at the sight of them. Snowflight was sprawled on the ground next to Shadowsong, and was safe. She was safe.
"I thought you were dead," he whispered, "I thought you fell down that miserable cliff and that I would never see you again. I thought we would never have kits and we would never see Brookfall's new kits together..."
"I love you Snowflight-"
"Watch out!" Shadowsong shrieked.
Stormflight spung around, but Lionwing was already throwing herself up, knocking him back. He gasped for air as Lionwing pinned him down. He heard Snowflight plead for his sake. "Lionwing, stop!"
The golden she-cat glared at her sister. "You were all I had, Snowflight. I loved you, yet you ran away, betraying me." She snarled. "You broke my heart, and now," she smirked. "Allow me to do that to you."
Snowflight yowled something that Stormflight didn't hear. He was too busy preparing himself. Lionwing sneered down at him, and her paw came flashing down.
The pain coursed through Stormflight, and he lay limp, his blood already oozing on the ground next to him. His breath came in ragged gasps as Snowflight knelt beside him, "Stormflight, don't leave me!" She begged. "We can do this, I can get you cobwebs, and then we can live together-"
He opened his blue eyes, staring into the depths of her eyes. "Snowflight... I love you."
The white she-cat's eyes were desperate now. "Don't say it like that. It sounds like you're dying, you can't be dying."
"I am, Snowflight. But remember that I love you..."
He closed his eyes, his eyelids too heavy to lift open. He heard Snowflight sobbing beside him, and he wished he could say more.
"You shouldn't have ever left FireClan..." He whispered, his breath now a faint whisper. Snowflight began to wail, as his breath stopped. Stormflight was dead.
Snowflight stared at the cliff next to her. She had successfully reached Lionwing in time and ended her life. Her sister deserved what she got. Her eyes were vacant, and her mind was flowing with decisions. Should I do it?
Stormflight had made her feel alive. She wanted him beside her right now, and she knew what she wanted to do.
Shadowsong came crashing out of the clearing. Snowflight turned around, her eyes barely focusing on her. "Snowflight?" Shadowsong mewed hesitantly.
"You lived." She replied.
"I shouldn't have come here. There was nothing for me here then, and nothing for me here now. Now FireClan hates me, and WaterClan doesn't even know I was here. Why didn't I just stay in FireClan, where I belonged?"
Shadowsong's eyes clouded. "You have me, you have the squad..."
"You don't know how I feel!" Snowflight whispered. "I'm empty and there's nothing left for me in this world. This is a bitter world, and only one thing can seal my broken fate. One thing that can heal my broken heart. But he's dead."
"What are you going to do then, Snowflight?" Shadowsong mewed softly.
"Me? I think I was meant to fly." She turned and leaped off the cliff, sailing down into nothingness. She heard the shriek of Shadowsong, but she shut the sounds out and thought.
I'm coming, Stormflight, we can finally be together.
(Again, credit to Arti because some of this was written by her in the War episodes)
There was darkness. And then...light, small pinpricks of it, twinkling into view above her bleary eyes.
With leaden limbs, Snowflight rose. Her legs unfolded slowly, as though they were weighed down with pounds of guilt and sorrow and upset. She stood, and when she managed to straighten her back it was as if the pain and worry had evaporated. Snowflight blinked, once, twice, three times; her eyes opened onto the grassy, spacious territory around her.
Her surroundings were edged with the navy hue of the twilight sky. There were no cats around, but the stars shone even more brightly than they had in FireClan territory. For a moment, the notion didn't disturb Snowflight. At least, it didn't disturb her until the realization dawned on her--
This wasn't the Dark Forest.
Stars didn't shine as brightly in the Dark Forest as the ones that were blazing down upon her; the grief and nerves might have weighed her into oblivion had she been lurking where tormented spirits would forever remain. The terrain was an oddity; from what she'd seen of the Dark Forest (in dreams and whatnot), there was darkness and thornbushes and the pelts of cats were nearly transparent, so much so that you could sense the evil and wrongdoings just by catching a glimpse of one patchy pelt. No, this was no Dark Forest.
"StarClan?" Snowflight breathed.
There was a tail touch on her shoulder, and the cloudy she-cat turned, her eyes wide and startled.
Behind her stood a slender she-cat with kind, familiar eyes. Her pelt, white with tabby patches, retained the downy softness usually attributed to newborn kits. Her entire aura emanated warmth, despite the coolness of the stars that speckled her fur. The she-cat stepped closer to Snowflight and their flanks touched. Something about the cat's scent was familiar to Snowflight, evoking memories of coziness and the squeals of Lionwing and moss and--
"Yes, Snowflight," Sunstorm purred. "It's been so long."
"I didn't know you...you died." Snowflight's voice faltered, and she gazed at her paws, suddenly ashamed. How awful was it that she didn't even know that her own mother, her own flesh and blood, had passed on? Had she truly been too focused on her own bloodthirsty conquest to even consider...?
Sunstorm's only reply was the sad glimmer in her eyes before she turned away and mewed, "Come on, Snowflight--" she seemed to revel in the use of her daughter's name "--there are so many cats I'd love for you to meet."
In truth, there was only one cat that Snowflight wanted to meet, and she knew that, should anyone deserve a place amongst his starry ancestors, it would be him. The only question was finding him, amidst the mass of feline shapes that began to coalesce around the pair. Nevertheless, it was the passion kindling in Snowflight's heart that allowed her to trot after her mother and bow respectfully to each cat (some of them crippled with age, despite the premonition that StarClan healed all wounds). It should be dually noted that Snowflight was not traditionally a creature of such docility. She was usually one with a temper more fiesty than the sun that blazed from dawn to dusk in the cerulean sky, but it was the thought of soon returning to the flank of her lovr that kept her in line.
"It's wonderful to see you," a fit she-cat mewed, extending a paw in the traditional FireClan greeting. Snowflight felt the sun graze her pelt as she shook paws with the athletic youth, returning the greeting and basking in her mother's affection.
When the she-cat had moved away, Sunstorm turned her glowing gaze upon her daughter once more. "I know you've been itching to see him all the while, so I assume it's time I turn you loose. Run along, Snowflight, and send Stormflight my regards!"
Positively giddy with joy now - a trait in she-cats that usually made Snowflight gag, but one she was now displaying with a complete lack of bother - Snowflight wove through the throng in search of the smoky pelt that had given her mate his name.
"Stormflight!" she called, her smile giving a lilt to her voice that had never before been heard. "Stormflight!"
At last, she saw him. Seated in the shade of a pine tree, the leaf cover sending dark dapples dancing across the stormy expanse of his pelt like raindrops across a furious sky. His eyes shone with laughter as he threw back his head in a mouth-splitting chortle, his joy almost tangible on the air as Snowflight moved to meet him. Her heartbeat sped up at the sight of her lover - he was so close, their reunion just a breath's width away--
Snowflight lurched to a stop.
Beside Stormflight, evidently the subject of his amusement, sat a lithe she-cat who seemed to be around his age. There were tears of laughter in Stormflight's eyes as he gazed at her with unmasked affection. She was definitely pretty, there was no doubt about that, with long, silky silver fur and glowing amber eyes. Her thick tail swatted at the ground in a manner that reminded Snowflight forcibly of Stormflight's, and she felt as though she would vomit.
Swallowing back an emotion she'd not yet felt save for after Stormflight's death, Snowflight turned on her heel and fled in the opposite direction.
Stormflight definitely didn't think it would be so hard to be with her. He didn't see anyone he knew nearby, but the she-cat he was chatting with was friendly and kind. "So you were WaterClan?" She purred, bumping Stormflight out of his daydream.
"Yeah, were you?"
"Mhm." She nodded. "I've always hated FireClan, but I guess we'll have to put aside that hate in StarClan huh?" She flicked her tail.
Stormflight shrugged. "Well we do have small borders. Like the FireClan cats don't hang out over here because they don't exactly like us."
The she-cat, Brightflower, nodded. "You know StarClan so well already don't you." She purred, her eyes twinkling. "How did you die?"
That was a weird question to ask. "Well I was facing off against Lionwing, the FireClan assasin, and I was trying to help my... friend against her." He muttered. "I made a mistake of being distracted, and well, I got my belly torn open. Yay."
Brightflower laughed. "You're funny. I died from a harsh leaf-bare, I was already sick, but Waterstar insisted that I helped with a fierce battle against FireClan. It didn't turn out well, and many of us died."
"Including you." Stormflight guessed.
It grew silent after that, and Stormflight shifted on his paws, awkwardly waiting for her to speak. Finally, he mewed. "Did you ever love anyone?"
Stormflight didn't want to press on, but Brightflower mewed. "He was a fantastic tom, and I always enjoyed being near him. He was so... strong and handsome. I definitely liked him, but he fell for another she-cat."
"No, don't be." Brightflower sighed. "So many cats know him now, he's one of FireClan's most wanted too. I think he'll even mate that she-cat one day."
"FireClan's most wanted?" Stormflight knew a few of his friends on that list. "Who was he?" Then he immediately regretted asking that. "You don't have to-"
Brightflower shook her head. "No, I'll say it, it's good for me to get it out. His name was Oakclaw." Stormflight froze.
He knew that name. That was one of his best friends, not to mention Shadowsong's boyfriend. He was famous, and a devout WaterClan warrior. In fact, he was one of the best. Stormflight's heart ached when he remembered how caring the tom actually was.
"I know him."
Brightflower didn't look surprised. "Many cats did. Was he like, a close friend? Or did you know him because of his deeds?"
"He was in my squad." Stormflight admitted.
Brightflower nodded slowly. "You talked about a friend. Was it Oakclaw? Or was it someone else, perhaps a bit more special?"
Stormflight struggled to swallow. "Well, it wasn't Oakclaw. It was a she-cat that I knew really well, and I fell in love with. I miss her so much..."
"What was her name?"
Brightflower narrowed her gaze. "You liked Snowflight? Why would you even befriend her, nevertheless save her? She's a FireClan assasin for StarClan's sake! She works alongside Lionwing!"
"I know." Stormflight hissed. "She was an assasin. She changed. She joined my squad and now she's in Lionwing's clutches. I'm scared she'll die because of Lionwing."
Brightflower stared at Stormflight. "She's really something to you huh? I can tell she loved you back. I've seen enough relationships to know that."
"Yes." Stormflight murmured. "She was wonderful, just as Oakclaw seemed to you. I just wish that we had more time together..."
Then his head turned around and he stared at the space there. "What...?"
"In fact, there she is right there."
He hadn't seen her.
Thank StarClan he hadn't seen her, he couldn't have seen her, not when she was being so, so stupid, and so...so emotional. She wasn't like herself, and it was all over some StarClan-forsaken tom that in the span of moments had fallen for some pretty WaterClan cat with eyes like the stream and fur that was smooth and glossy and--
She stopped, scrabbling for decent foothold on the mushy terrain. Ahead, a sleek, compact shape emerged from the undergrowth and, upon confirmation of Snowflight's identity, picked up the pace. A she-cat with golden-red fur dappled with little pinpricks of light raced to meet Snowflight, her eyes shining and a purr rumbling deep within her throat. It took a moment for Snowflight to process what was happening; Foxwhisker was back in FireClan -- she hadn't even been drafted to the front lines yet, last Snowflight heard she was being recruited for an espionage mission.
"Foxwhisker, what are you doing here?"
A flicker of doubt crossed over the FireClan warrior's face, but she perked up almost immediately. "Oh, don't you worry about me! I got caught behind WaterClan lines and thought I could escape...but red fur in leaf-fall doesn't exactly do wonders for camouflage."
Snowflight was still struggling to comprehend the appearance of her old friend, and it took almost a full minute for her to notice that Foxwhisker was leading the way towards a sheltered, shady grove of trees that had coalesced a couple of tail-lengths away. The air was cool beneath the cover of leaves, and provided ample relief from the heat and glare of the sun. Snowflight let out the breath she didn't know she had been holding and closed her eyes briefly. Her thoughts were whirring.
Foxwhisker didn't seem to be aware of Snowflight's inner turmoil, though, because the young she-cat had already began talking at an incredibly speedy rate and no braking point seemed in sight. "Yeah, so, anyway, I tried to escape through these weird bramble barrier things that they have in some of their camps and then, of course, a guard saw me because they have them like everywhere and it's kind of stupid, I mean, most of our warriors aren't even smart enough to try and escape (but don't tell Firestar I said that!), and, I mean, it's not like there'd be any point because camps are literally so close together it's one of the stupidest types of maneuvers and the shoddiest organization I've ever seen and--"
"Foxwhisker, I know we haven't seen each other in moons, but could you please shut up?"
The aforementioned fell silent. Snowflight exhaled again, her cloudy tail swatting at the grass and her paws kneading the dirt. Her claws were unsheathed, prepared to shred any other living thing that interrupted the one moment of peace she'd had since she died. She needed to think.
When Foxwhisker spoke again, she did so tentatively, with much less fervor than before. "Snowflight? Is...is everything all right?"
The latter four words acted like a tiny, wheedling claw that squeezed through a crack in the walls that had been hastily erected around Snowflight's heart. For a minute, she teetered on the edge, and then she was pinioned beneath Foxwhisker's expectant stare and she was blubbering and she couldn't even discern her own words and she was hardly coherent.
"I--I loved him, you know? And like, I'm not even an emotional cat because StarClan, I hate it when she-cats are and I hate it when they live up to that stupid, mouse-brained stereotype about whining in the nursery but I just thought he loved me and the minute I get up here and start to look for him, I see him sharing tongues with this WaterClan cat and I know that they're Clanmates and all but I...I thought he loved me. We told each other everything and we worked together for so long and he had so much faith in me and I can't -- I don't -- it's not fair and I just want..."
"Sh," Foxwhisker soothed, "sh. It's going to be okay, Snowflight. It's going to be okay."
And maybe, if she was lucky, it would be.
She was staring at him weirdly.
Stormflight was certain that Snowflight had been looking at him. But she had been hiding that day he met Brightflower. Why was she hiding?
Brightflower tagged alongside him, feeling as though they needed to catch up for old times sake and get to know each other more. "You know, don't you ever wonder what happens to your friends and family when you die?"
Another strange question, but Stormflight didn't mind. "Yeah, guess so," he shrugged, "My father died not so long ago, and... my mother died a long time ago." He lowered his head, trying not to let the tears come to his eyes as he remembered what Badgerstrike had told him right before he left to the Wilds.
"Don't be." Stormflight mewed as he stood up. "That reminds me, have you seen a black and white tom around in the WaterClan area?"
Brightflower furrowed her brow, "I don't believe so, why do you ask?" She asked, tilting her head slightly like Snowflight used to do. Stormflight's gaze wandered around the clearing, and then he saw Snowflight talking with a red she-cat, and she seemed to be blubbering about something. Is she looking for me? No, I'm pretty sure she saw me already. Then what is she crying about?
Surely it can't be me...
Snowflight's gaze jerked upwards, and Stormflight gulped as he saw the shock in Snowflight's eyes as they stared at one another. He remembered the terror when he realized that Brightflower had told him that Snowflight had been in StarClan too.
Fury and sorrow laced in her eyes as she looked away again, and the red she-cat leaned over and whispered something in her ear. The two turned away from the clearing and padded off. "Hey, you listening to me?"
Stormflight muttered a curse under his breath and mewed, "Excuse me for a second, Brightflower." He turned and took off after Snowflight.
She didn't seem to hear him as the pair of she-cats wove their way through the trees. Stormflight called her name over and over, as he slammed into trees just trying to reach her.
"Snowflight!" He shouted, and this time she turned around, and Stormflight stopped and gaped as Snowflight glared at him, the venomous look tearing at his heart, "Wait, Snowflight, why are you running!" He called out as she turned once more, flanked by the red she-cat.
"You should know yourself!"
Stormflight hauled himself up and tried to run after them, but after crashing into yet another tree, Stormflight sat down, defeated. You should know yourself! What was Snowflight so worried and mad about?
Pawsteps thumped after him and he sagged his shoulders, tears running freely down his cheek. Brightflower's scent wreathed around him, and he leaned against her as she soothed him, "It's okay, Stormflight, I'm here for you."
"Thanks, Brightflower, you're all I have here in StarClan..."
"C'mon," Foxwhisker mewed a moment later, her whiskers twitching with amusement. "There are some cats I'd love for you to meet -- and I'm sure they'd love to meet you too!" She tipped her suggestioin off with a heavy wink, a gesture that dropped lead into the pit of Snowflight's stomach. Nervously, she twitched her tail, but consented to follow Foxwhisker into the congregation that was had amassed in the center of the clearing.
They drifted through the crowd of cats, Foxwhisker stopping every few paces to pick up a long-lost conversation with a family member or friend. At one point, the fiery she-cat even got into a heated argument with a tom that looked a startling amount like her (same reddish fur and bright eyes), and Snowflight had to -- for once -- act like the mediator.
It was weird, breaking up arguments instead of starting them. She was used to the spike of adrenaline that filtered through her veins the moment a venomous word left her mouth. She loved the look of disgust and shock that spread across her opponent's face, and Snowflight loved the vindictive pleasure that seized her muscles as she prepared for the ensuing fight. She usually won -- and that wasn't even an attempt to sound conceited. It was generally true: biting words and stinging claws were generally a magnificent combo.
But breaking up fights...that was a whole different story.
It was like ignoring the pulse of pleasure that would have come from raking claws through fur. It was like passing by a mouse, in the forest, and hearing its heartbeat. Hearing the patter of its tiny paws on leaves and rocks and tasting its scent on the air. It was like being upwind of prey, knowing that you could smell it but it couldn't smell you and the opportunity was so perfect. It was like passing up the opportunity to showcase one's power. It was weird.
Foxwhisker escorted Snowflight right up to where a crowd of small apprentices (the thought of these cats dying so young struck a chord in Snowflight's heart; a pang she quickly stifled as her old self came back. Some of these cats might have been part of her squad, once; she might have gotten some of them killed. There was no room for remorse, but--no. No, Snowflight needed to stay true to herself. True to Stormflight. Even if he was canoodling with other she-cats. Anyways) was hovering around a group of larger, stronger cats. One of them was achingly familiar...
"Firestar?" Snowflight mewed.
Though she intended for it to be naught but a whisper, her words caught the attention of her uncle and he swung his wide head to stare directly at her. A grin licked across his lips and he waved his tail for Snowflight to come closer.
"Why don't I introduce you to my friends?" Firestar boomed, sweeping his tail around at the other cats. They exchanged smiles, as if anticipating Firestar's next words. "This is Firestar," he gestured to the mottled tom to his right, "and this is Firestar. This is Firestar, and that's Firestar, and that is Firestar too!"
Snowflight didn't even crack a smile, but Foxwhisker -- who had undoubtedly heard the joke too many times to count -- forced out a chuckle. The look in her eyes was one of distinct discomfort, one that gave Snowflight a small spark of amusement. Her uncle wasn't that scary -- he was like any other dad. Kind of. minus the whole fatherly thing, and plus the whole bloodthirsty killer thing.
"Run along now, 'paws, give me some time with my niece," the first Firestar mewed, shooing the apprentices along. They scattered, diving for each other's tails and laughing as they bounded away. Firestar turned to face Snowflight. "So. You're quite an honorable warrior, my dear."
As if emerging from a groggy trance, Snowflight nodded.
"And that stint with the WaterClan warrior," another Firestar added, "Miraculous! Shame you passed before you could get any information to Firestar though."
Snowflight stared at him. Stint with the WaterClan warrior. They thought she'd faked it -- that she'd done it without thinking of love. Without thinking of Stormflight's feelings. They thought she was another heartless beast, just like the rest of them. Just like the rest of FireClan.
But...but Snowflight couldn't find it in herself to refute them. All she could think of was Stormflight, with his sooty pelt and bright blue eyes, purring. Purring, with that she-cat next to him. That she-cat that wasn't her, wasn't Snowflight.
So she stayed quiet. Put on a smile. And nodded.
"Yeah, what a shame," she conceded.
It was days after he had told Brightflower that she was the only friend she had in StarClan when Stormflight saw her beckoning to him.
"Come on! Waterstar wants to see you." She was breathless with excitement.
Waterstar? Why does she want to see me? Stormflight gulped and trotted after Brightflower, who was purring, "You're so lucky, Waterstar never paid attention to me before! I realize it's probably because you were on the squad that everyone got so worked up about, but still!" She was chattering more than she used to. Stormflight huffed and thought, What if she wants to punish me for loving Snowflight?
Brightflower was still talking, and Stormflight drowned her out, following her through the stream of brown and black pelts, until they reached a dark she-cat. "Waterstar," Stormflight acknowledged, dipping his head until he could brush the ground with his nose.
He noticed other cats near her, and he assumed these were her acquaintances. "Stormflight." Waterstar returned to greeting, barely dipping her head. There was written disgust concealed on her face, and Stormflight grimaced.
"As you may have guessed," the dark gray she-cat purred without mirth, "These are previous Waterstars, the leaders before me."
Stormflight dipped his head to them, hoping he didn't seem rude.
"They wanted to talk to you about your...skills." Waterstar, his own leader, sneered slightly. Her eyes were cruel, and she wasn't any kinder than she had been when she was alive.
One Waterstar whose brown fur shown stepped forward, "You have shown great courage, fighting alongside your friends in order to rid the forest of FireClan."
Another, with white fur that glowed in the StarClan light purred, "Not only have you willingly sacrificed yourself to Thundercloud, have you been brave enough to keep moving along with your squad, despite the danger and fear you faced."
Praises after praises came from the previous leaders, until it was the final Waterstar's turn. Her cold, calculating eyes watched him, and she hissed, "Traitor!"
The other Waterstars grunted in surprise, exchanging bewildered looks. Stormflight flinched and didn't meet his leader's gaze.
"You fell in love with a FireClan she-cat, an assassin, and yet you were still foolishly acknowledged as a hero, despite everything you've done to betray me, and WaterClan!" Her tail lashed as she bushed out her pelt, stepping forward angrily.
Brightflower, who had been silent this entire time opened her mouth to respond. Stormflight pushed her back roughly, not wanting to involve the young she-cat.
"Yes, I loved her," the gray tom began, "But that did not stop me from being the best WaterClan warrior I could be. Snowflight fled her own Clan to aid WaterClan in many missions, and if it was not for her, Shadowsong would be dead and so would most of WaterClan. She saved us."
The other leaders were murmuring amongst themselves, and finally, the first speaker, the brown she-cat mewed softly.
"He is still brave, Waterstar," she soothed the frail dark she-cat, "He has been loyal, and we ask nothing more of him."
They dipped their heads to them, dismissing him. Waterstar, his own leader, stared back at him, the anger and fire still in her eyes.
Her words stung, and Stormflight realized that perhaps, love was a hard thing to accept. He thought about this own words and conversations he had exchanged with Snowflight, and thought about their fight.
"You should know yourself!"
But he didn't know.