Note:This story takes place in the same setting, at the same time, as The Snake That Rattles.
The kit squealed as Berryfrost frantically began to lick it. Her mother was panting heavily as Ravenpaw stuck cobwebs onto her several wounds. Cherrydapple let out a wail as she felt her shoulder sting.
"It's okay," her mate, Scarletheart whispered softly into her ear, "you will survive."
"It hurts," she whimpered, and another kit slid out and she cried in pain again. Berryfrost was at it right away, but had to hand it to Scareltheart to lick the kit, as he was already occupied.
Ravenpaw was still trying to cover up the she-cats wounds as she let out another whimper, feeling a third kit about to arrive. "What were you thinking, leaving camp right before you were due to have your kits?" he asked, scolding her.
"Ravenpaw," Berryfrost looked up from the kit he was licking, "don't go too hard on her, she is in enough pain already."
His apprentice dipped his head as another kit, the final one slid out and the black cat began to lick it right away. Berryfrost turned to Scarletheart who had stopped licking the kit. When he noticed the medicine cat's gaze on him he shrugged. "Dead."
Ravenpaw dropped the other kit in front of Berryfrost and he realized it wasn't moving. "It was dead before it even left the mother's stomach," the apprentice explained, "the fox must have killed it."
Scarletheart had left the medicine cats and was now standing beside his mate, "Please don't leave me!" he begged and she shook her head sadly.
"I can't deny StarClan's call," she whispered, "I am so sorry I sneaked out of camp. I never thought that..." she stumbled, "I never thought that a fox would attack me. I am sorry I killed all of our kits because of my rash mistake."
"They're not all dead," the ginger tom whispered sweetly. "There is a beautiful new kit in PineClan!" He tried to look happy.
"Can I see her?" she rasped and Berryfrost brought the kit up. The queen purred.
"Looks just like you," she sighed and Berryfrost realized it wasn't long. "I'll name her Foxkit, in honor of the fox she survived the attacks of, I hope she will continue to posses the same strength as she grows into a warrior. My last present to the Clan."
"No!" Scarletheart cried as the she-cat gasped and went limp. Berryfrost felt a stab of pity and he looked down at Foxkit, who seemed horrified as if she knew exactly what happened. Scarletheart didn't leave his mate's side to comfort his kit, and the medicine cat looked down at the kit and pointed to her tiny heart.
"She's still in there," he whispered. "Don't make her sacrifice be in vain."
Her eyes glittered as she looked down at where he had just placed his paw, at her chest, covered by her ginger pelt.
Her crimson heart.
Foxkit bounded out of the nursery with excitement, "Today I finally become an apprentice!" she exclaimed to the other kits who quickly turned to look at her, "I'll be the greatest one this forest has ever seen!"
Whitekit snorted, "Yeah right! I will be the best," flicking her tail at her friend she quickly added, "You can be the second best."
Foxkit jumped onto her friend, rolling her over, "I will always be the best, Whitekit. You will have to be known as my best friend when the whole forest is talking about me!"
Whitekit rolled her eyes, "Good luck with that Foxpaw. Maybe you can get a very good looking mate but you don't have the muscles or the speed to become the greatest warrior in the forest. Not that I do either, but I guess I don't make such raucous when exiting the den, so I can become the sneakiest cat in the clan."
"I was named after foxes," Foxkit snapped, "I think I would be a little more stealthier."
"If someone cut your muzzle off," she giggled, "You were named after a fox because you have a muzzle as big as one of theirs!"
Foxkit pounced on her friend playfully, although it had really hurt her inside. She was named after foxes because one had killed her mother right before birth.
Whitekit seemed to sense that she had upset her friend because she sadly dipped her head, "I'm sorry, I never meant it like that," she stammered, "I was just trying to say that you can't ever make the strongest warrior in the forest because of your frame."
"I will do the impossible," Foxkit insisted, "Just watch me!"
Whitekit's eyes widened in amusement, "I will, Foxkit, but I think you should stick to your strengths which mainly consist of being so easy to like."
"Thanks," Foxkit blushed, knowing that what her friend said was true, "But I still want to become something much greater than a social machine."
Whitekit shrugged, "I'd stick with my strengths."
"You were just saying that you were going to become the greatest warrior in the clans!" Foxkit complained, slightly confused, "If you stick to your strengths all you can ever become is a cat who can critique others but do no good herself!"
"Hey!" she squeaked in protest, "At least I don't have several toms following me around like their new Clan leader!" their was a teasing tone to her voice and Foxkit brushed off her comment with a wag of her tail.
"You are just jealous that I am becoming an apprentice now while you are stuck with Reedkit, Grasskit, and Talonkit who are suddenly full of potential because they opened their eyes, while I get to go off, hunting and fighting like a real warrior does."
Luckily for Foxkit, Ravenstar had called the Clan together before she could retort to her best friends comment. Foxkit smiled with glee, and the two kits ran up to join the cats who had gathered beneath their leader.
Ravenstar nodded when he noticed that most of his Clan was gathered. He coughed and smiled at Foxkit, making her feel the slightest bit nervous before he began.
"We have a kit, who has reached the proper age to begin his training," The old and respected leader called out as the clan looked around with excitement.
Foxkit noticed her father, Scarletheart speaking with another warrior, deep in discussion. She felt angry that he couldn't even bother to pay attention to her now, the most important moment of her life, and was rudely ignoring the leader.
She pushed the tears away from her eyes, and tried to look determined.
"Foxkit has reached the age of six moons an is ready to become an apprentice," he summoned her with a flick of his tail and she quickly bounded up to the top of the Tallpine, where Ravenstar stood.
He smiled at her reassuringly, "Foxkit, from now on, until you receive your warrior name you will be known as Foxpaw. Foxpaw your mentor will be," he scanned the clearing for a moment, "Scarletheart. I hope he passes down all of his traits to you!"
Foxpaw could hardly keep her mouth shut from gaping at him.
Her father turned away from his conversation to look at the leader in surprise. Foxpaw could tell that he had not known this was coming. He was forced to climb the tree anyways, as he could not reject the offer in front of the whole Clan.
"Scarletheart, you have shown yourself to be caring and supportive and I hope that you handle this apprentice with these traits and pass them down to her!"
He moved away so that the two cats could touch noses, and Foxpaw was surprised by the fact that her father felt like such a stranger to her.
Of course he would be a stranger she thought sourly He never stops by to say visit me, and I don't remember the last time we actually exchanged a word with each other. He just ignores me, as if I don't need a father because I am lacking a mother.
Scarletheart seemed reluctant to be mentoring her and she felt her heart being pierced by how cruel he was. He avoiding all eye contact with her and seemed to be staring at an object in the distance.
When the two cats had pulled away, Foxpaw was unable to control the tears that were slipping down her face and splattering against the branches of the tree. She didn't see how she could possibly enjoy being an apprentice when her 'father' was mentoring her.
The clan pretended not to notice but it was obvious they all saw her pain. Some whispered to other sympathetically making her heart burn even more. Whitekit was looking away, not willing to see the pain on her friends face. This only made her heart twist even father as she struggled to push the tears behind her face.
The clan quickly remembered that they were supposed to chant, "Foxpaw! Foxpaw! Foxpaw!"
Foxpaw tried to stand proudly, hiding the tears that had just slipped from her eyes, but she couldn't stop the rotting feeling in her heart from growing.
Her apprenticeship had just started but she already felt sick of it.
Foxpaw slowly paddled into the apprentice den, scared of how the apprentices might treat her. Her father had decided to let her meet the apprentices before they began their first training session; something he obviously wasn't looking forward to.
He just want to get away from me, she though bitterly.
She felt her feet fighting against her will, as they tried to stay planted, hardly willing to enter the den. Taking in a sharp breath, Foxpaw forced them to move inside the den.
There were several apprentices, each looking ten times more confident than her, as her eyes darted around, looking for a friend.
"Hello," A bright colored apprentice walked up to her, a bright smile on her face. Foxpaw wondered if she had seen her crying because she was acting a little too normal for that.
"Hey," she responded a little slowly.
"My name is Berrypaw," the cat quickly claimed, "What's yours."
Foxpaw replied gently, "I am Foxpaw."
"I know," she smiled, "I watched your apprenticeship ceremony."
So she did see me crying, Foxpaw thought bitterly, "Oh," she replied, "How many moons into training are you?" she asked trying to steer the topic away from her ceremony.
"I just started!" she exclaimed, "Less than a moon ago. So we will become warriors together," her sentence was cut off by her stomach's growl and she laughed, "I haven't eaten all day, want to share a vole with me?" she asked Foxpaw.
Foxpaw thought for a moment before nodding. She wasn't exactly excited to begin training with her father. She already knew it would be unpleasant.
Together the two apprentices picked out the largest vole they could find and took it back to the apprentice's den, where they ate it together. They talked in the meanwhile, and Berrypaw explained what life as an apprentice was like.
Foxpaw listened with excitement, and was soon sharing tales from when she had been a kit, which was very recently, while Berrypaw listened and replied about she had occasionally done the same things. By the end of the meal the two had become best friends, and Foxpaw left the den with an excited feeling.
It was spoiled at the sight of her father, who seemed to have been waiting for her a long time. He didn't say anything but she could detect impatience in his eyes.
They toured the territory that day, but Scarletheart hardly said anything, and he wouldn't dare to look her in the eyes, frustrating Foxpaw, and ruining her excitement about becoming and apprentice and her new best friend.
She had hated her father for neglecting her all that time when she was a kit, but as he hardly dared to pay her any attention and neglect the training that she would need to become a warrior, she felt her insides boiling, unable to understand what her father hated so much about her.
When she came back to camp that day there were a couple new apprentices that she hadn't met before, including a ginger tabby she-cat. All of the apprentices were gathered around her, asking questions and Foxpaw could see a look of awe in the toms' eyes.
She watched from behind; as Berrypaw was also talking to the she-cat. She soon pulled away and came to stand by Foxpaw.
"That's Flamepaw," she explained, "She is the most popular cat among the apprentices. I don't like her much, but you have to get her to like you or she will make your life miserable."
"How would she do that?" Foxpaw asked, "It's not like a single cat can ruin your social life and make you an outcast."
"Everyone will listen to her, no matter how outrageous so you have to be careful to stay on her good side," she warned, "Just don't get to close to her and you will be okay. All cats who become her best friends will get into a fight with her sooner or later. She is a drama magnet."
But as Foxpaw watched the pretty she-cat talking to the other, she couldn't help feeling like the belonged there, by her side, ruling the apprentices of PineClan.
Whitekit had told her to stick to her strengths after all and getting cats to like her was one of them. And that single glance at the ginger cat was all it took for Foxpaw to make her mind. She was going to take that throne, no matter what it took.
She belonged there.
Foxpaw paddled into the apprentice's den carrying a mouse. Her eyes darted around, looking for Berrypaw, but she could not locate the apprentice.
"Hello, Foxpaw," she whirled around to find a beautiful she-cat, whom she automatically recognized as Flamepaw. She had a curious look on her face, and Foxpaw tried to keep her calm.
"Hi, Flamepaw," she put on her best smile, "How is your day?"
"Just fine," she claimed, "I went hunting today and caught a few mice. And now Willowpelt wants me to check the elders for ticks."
Foxpaw smiled sympathetically, "I feel bad for you," she claimed, "Scarletheart had yet to assign me the duty of helping the elders and I hope that he should take his time."
Flamepaw smiled, "Well, since you haven't done it at all yet, maybe you could go do it for me. I am an older apprentice than you and I would really appreciate it if one of the younger, less experienced and respected cats did these tiring chores for me. It's very boring to me because I have done it so many times."
Foxpaw realized what Flamepaw was trying to do and Berrypaw's words echoed in her head. You have to be careful not to upset Flamepaw, she could ruin your life.
But Foxpaw didn't feel entirety prepared to have herself bossed around and played with by another apprentice, "What if you came with me," she offered, "We could do it together."
Flamepaw shook her head, "That's not what I meant."
Although Foxpaw knew she probably should have just walked away and done the simple chore, she couldn't stand the idea that Flamepaw thought she could do whatever she wanted to the apprentices just because she was very pretty.
"I'm trying to nice," she countered, "You can accept my help so that we can do it together and you will have some company or you can do it on your own."
She bared her teeth in anger, "You don't get away with turning me down like this," she warned Foxpaw, "You will end up paying a very high price for your disrespect if you don't change your mind, and apologize to me right now."
"Forget it," Foxpaw claimed, before turning around and marched away from the ginger apprentice.
Despite the situation she knew she had got herself into Foxpaw couldn't help feeling both happy and proud that she had defied the apprentice.
That will teach her to boss me around, She thought with a sense of achievement.
She ate her mouse alone, and went out later that day to do some hunting with Scareltheart who still refused to look her in the eye. When she came back that evening Berrypaw was eating.
"Hey!" She called walking up to her friend, "I missed you today."
But Berrypaw didn't seem to be in the mood to talk about casual things, "What were you thinking?" She demanded, "Turning down Flamepaw like that!"
Foxpaw shrugged, "I wanted to prove that she wasn't in charge of me."
Berrypaw groaned, "She is the boss of you, though," she claimed, "Unless you want her to ruin your life! Now all of the apprentices will turn against you, and if I stay friends with you then they will begin to make my life miserable to."
Foxpaw dipped her head in apology, realizing with a pang of guilt that she hadn't stopped to think how this might affect Berrypaw.
"Hello, are you Foxpaw?" The two she-cats turned around to find a golden tom looking at them curiously, "I heard you were new."
Foxpaw smiled, "Yeah that's me!" She claimed, and he smiled at her.
"My name is Goldenpaw, nice to meet you!" There was a sweet look in his eyes.
Foxpaw noticed Berrypaw grinning with delight next to her, and pretended not to notice although she was curious what had made her friend so excited.
"Nice to meet you too," she replied, and the golden apprentice didn't say anything. He seemed to be glancing at her with some sort of awe, and Foxpaw ignored it, thinking that it was probably just her.
Until she noticed Flamepaw glaring at her, looking angrily from Goldenpaw to her, as if unable to believe the situation.
"So... Goldenpaw," Foxpaw quickly began, desperate not to let the apprentice go, where Flamepaw would corner him and make sure that he began to hate her, "Do you want to go hunting sometime tomorrow?"
His eyes brightened, "I would love that!" he exclaimed. They stood in silence for a few moments before his eyes quickly widened, "I forgot! Quickpelt wanted to take me out for a training session today!" he exclaimed, "I have to go now! I'll see you tonight!"
"See you tonight," Foxpaw murmured gently as he bounded away.
Berrypaw was grinning beside her, "That was wonderful!" she claimed, "You should have seen the look on Flamepaw's face. I know that you don't want to anger her, but you just totally beat her in her own game!" her eyes had widened with excitement and Foxpaw shrugged.
"I don't know how well she will take it..." Foxpaw claimed, "She obviously doesn't like losing to other cats..."
But Berrypaw seemed too delighted to care, "Making her lose is the first step to beating her! Of course, you haven't won Goldenpaw yet but you have just got yourself a head start!"
"And you know for sure that Flamepaw likes Goldenpaw?" Foxpaw asked her.
She snorted, "The whole Clan knows it," she claimed, "She couldn't make it more obvious. And Goldenpaw never seems to respond to her hints, making it pretty obvious he isn't interested."
Despite the excitement it had inflicted upon Berrypaw, it gave Foxpaw a pang of worry. And she realized the fear was not as much of losing to Flamepaw, but more the thought of losing Goldenpaw.
Foxpaw laughed alongside Goldenpaw, as they emerged into the apprentice's den. They were both carrying a fair amount of prey that they had caught while out hunting that day, but neither of them were hungry. Foxpaw had suggested that they eat before coming into camp, just because she didn't want Flamepaw to be glaring at them the whole time and Goldenpaw had seemed thrilled with the idea.
Foxpaw realized it was going perfectly. It had been a couple days since she had turned down Flamepaw, but the fiery she-cat had yet to make a move. Foxpaw was personally wondering is Flamepaw feared what might happen if she upset her, especially since she had Goldenpaw.
Another thing that Flamepaw had to hate her for. The two cats had gone out hunting every day since the first time she asked, but after two hunts, Flamepaw had decided that it was time to make her move, so that she didn't fall behind and lose before the game could even begin.
When they arrived at camp this day, Flamepaw didn't seem angry, but rather there was a manipulative smile placed onto her ginger muzzle.
She had already asked Goldenpaw if they could go hunting the next morning and it was far too late to have gone hunting then, considering how late it was. Foxpaw still couldn't understand how the golden tom felt about having two she-cats, one the most popular among the apprentices, that wanted him.
So this time, Flamepaw didn't reach out for Goldenpaw, but instead she walked up to Foxpaw. She gave the golden tom her best smile before dragging the young ginger apprentice along, to the corner of their den, where she continued to hold her fake smile.
"What's wrong?" Foxpaw asked, knowing what the answer was.
But Flamepaw obviously had different things on her mind than what she had first anticipated.
"You have such pretty pelt," she smiled, "It makes me so jealous every time I see you walk by," Foxpaw tried to detect any sarcasm in her voice but it seemed pretty sincere.
"Not as pretty as yours, Foxpaw replied, feeling the slightest bit flattered. She knew that she was fairly pretty, but no one had ever came out and told it openly to her except for her mother, a memory she remembered of her birth, and older Clanmates.
"You are too modest for your own good," She claimed before removing the smile from her face and replacing it with a serious look, "You are too pretty to be hanging out with cats like Berrypaw, who don't have many friends."
Foxpaw opened her eyes in surprise, slightly angered by the she-cat, "Berrypaw is my friend, and she is a wonderful one!" she insisted.
"I know, I know," Flamepaw sighed, "But what if I offered you the chance to be my best friend, where everyone would like you and do as you said. We could rule all of the apprentices."
Foxpaw stared at her in surprise. She had been thinking that she would get this position by defeating Flamepaw, not by working with her. But she would still end up being the queen of the apprentices, something she desired more and more with each passing day.
"Sure," she finally decided, "As long as I am still allowed to be friends with Berrypaw."
Flamepaw laughed, "Of course, you can! You just have to eat by me," her eyes narrowed for a moment, "But I do have one condition."
"What is that?"
"We both must forget about Goldenpaw. It doesn't work in between best friends if they are fighting over the same tom. We will forget about him and move on. We don't need him when we have each other."
Foxpaw felt torn. She sent Goldenpaw a glance; he was eating quietly with some friends, but he looked so sweet and calm, unlike something to give up on so quickly.
She turned back to Flamepaw; who held something she desired so badly. And now she was forced to make a decision in between this and Goldenpaw.
She knew that there was only one choice she could be fully satisfied with.
She smiled at Flamepaw, "Sure!"
Foxpaw followed Ravenstar with excitement, as Berrypaw paddled alongside her. Flamepaw wouldn't be coming to the gathering tonight but Foxpaw didn't let that ruin her spirits. She hadn't been able to speak with Berrypaw in a while anyways, because most of her time had been devoted to Flamepaw.
In a few days Flamepaw had turned out to be much kinder and funner to be around than Foxpaw had first thought. Her main flaw was that she seemed to think that she was a little higher than any of the other apprentices, but Foxpaw realized that didn't affect her since she viewed Foxpaw to be her only equal.
Berrypaw had seemed a little upset by the fact that she was no longer Foxpaw's best friend, but she didn't take it too harshly and they still interacted a little, when Foxpaw had time to spare.
The midnight breeze ran through her thick fur and she shivered, from both excitement and from cold. She couldn't wait to finally be there with all the other Clans and their stories to tell.
The gathering place was around a small pond, where the cats gathered. Inside the pond was a large rock where the leaders stood while making their Clan's announcements. As Foxpaw approached she realized that two of the Clans were already there. She sniffed the air cautiously and realized that the missing Clan was BirchClan, and they had a way of being late to everything.
Ravenstar dismissed them with a flick of his tail and the cats scattered, Foxpaw followed Berrypaw who seemed to have a better idea of where to go; running up to a group of young cats with an MapleClan scent on them. They welcomed her with pleasant smiles, and did the same to Foxpaw when they noticed her.
Soon they were joined by some PineClan and BirchClan cats and they all began to tell stories. Foxpaw enjoyed talking to the other she-cat apprentices, as no toms dared to come near the group, in fear that they might be excluded. Although the leaders did wait a long time before they began the gathering, it seemed like Foxpaw barely had anytime to socialize with the apprentices.
As Foxpaw said farewell to the other apprentices and began to paddled alongside Berrypaw to where the apprentices were sitting, she noticed a pale tom sitting in the OakClan area. He had eyes as dark as endless pits and the expression on his face was unreadable. Just looking at him almost pierced her heart for reasons Foxpaw couldn't explain.
She turned away from him, scared of the sinister cat and joined the PineClan cats, as they gazed at the four leaders. Foxpaw was hardly listening as the leaders spoke of the most boring topics. She could have fell asleep if the scary apprentice wasn't sitting beside her, with his horrid gaze landing on everyone; including her. She wondered if the thought of him might keep her up that night.
When the clans were finally dismissed she felt Berrypaw walking in the opposite direction of her Clan. Foxpaw figured that she wanted to say goodbye to someone so she decided to continue without her. She would catch up later, and Foxpaw felt to exhausted to have a good conversation.
But Berrypaw didn't return until they had almost reached camp. When she finally did return, got a curious glance from her Clanmates but they left her alone and Foxpaw did too.
When they reached camp she gave Flamepaw a quick summary before quickly drifting off to sleep. She didn't even notice Goldenpaw's sad gaze resting on her pelt as it slowly rose and fell in her soft dreams which no longer contained him.
A moon later, Foxpaw was out on a midnight stroll. She hadn't been able to fall asleep that night, because the apprentice she had seen at the gathering was still haunting her dreams. Berrypaw wasn't in camp either, and she had decided to follow her friend's scent.
As she continued to walk she heard to voices, one belonging to her friend in a soft, silky tone. She talked as if she was asleep, and hiding behind the cover of a row of bushes, as she slowly crept on her friends and the cat who owned the other voice.
The voice almost scared her when she was close enough to hear it clearly. She forced herself to look up, wondering what in the name of StarClan Berrypaw would be doing there.
The worst possible scene met her eyes.
Berrypaw was speaking to the OakClan apprentice.
Foxpaw waited until Berrypaw had pulled away from the apprentice. She seemed sad, as Foxpaw still struggled to get over her shock. Berrypaw was supposed to be a good cat, who was kind and always followed the warrior code. And Foxpaw couldn't stand the thought of her friend being near that cat every night. She still couldn't figure out exactly what it was, but something was wrong with that apprentice, and Foxpaw knew better than to wish that she might understand it one day.
As soon as the two were finished meeting each other, parting from each other sadly, and the OakClan tom was out of sight, Foxpaw approached her friend. Berrypaw pretended not to notice her and quickly began walking in the opposite direction of her, but Foxpaw was quicker and soon had her cornered.
Realizing that she couldn't win, Berrypaw put on her best smile, "Hello, Foxpaw," she smiled, "Good to see you out at night."
"I could ask what you were doing out here?" Foxpaw began glaring at her friend, "But I already know. What are you thinking, Berrypaw? Have you lost it?"
She sighed and let out a deep breath, "You don't know Snakepaw-" she slowly began, only to have Foxpaw cut her off.
"The name suits him very well I think. He looks like an evil and dangerous snake to me. One that should be avoided at all costs."
"You don't even know him!" Berrypaw screeched, infuriated, "Why are you so quick to judge just because his pelt isn't quite as beautiful as yours? Even since you have become friends with Flamepaw, I don't even know if I want your company quite as much, anymore."
Foxpaw was taken aback, but she quickly recovered, angrier than before, "You are just jealous!" she screeched, "Because I look better than you and because I am now best friends with Flamepaw, and you are stuck as a normal, boring apprentice! And that's why you took, Snakepaw, isn't it? Because you wanted to become more than normal! Well, maybe it is time you accept there is nothing to you which is special!"
Even Foxpaw was taken aback by the harsh words that steamed out of her mouth. Tears welled in the corners of Berrypaw's eyes, making Foxpaw instantly forget it, "I'm sorry!" she quickly claimed, "I didn't mean to say it I was just..."
"Thinking it," her voice was tender under the tears that were preparing to flow through her eyes, "Thanks for telling me your honest opinions on me."
And she ran off as tears gently hit the ground beneath her, while Foxpaw had to claw the mud to distract herself, in order to make sure her own tears didn't slowly begin to spill out as well.
She slowly walked back towards camp where everyone was sleeping. Berrypaw was already there, and she had picked a nest isolated in the corner of the den.
Foxpaw went back to the nest she had been sleeping in before, beside Flamepaw. She felt her insides boiling with anxiety and guilt and didn't even know how she fell asleep that night. She never even realize the pair of perfect blue eyes that were sadly resting on her ginger pelt, as she struggled to fall asleep.
Foxpaw paddled through camp, her heart burning even more with every step she took. She had not seen Berrypaw all day and she doubted that it would be a good thing if she did.
She noticed Flamepaw walking towards her and took in a deep breath to keep herself together. She couldn't show any cracks in her confidence.
"How is your day?" Foxpaw asked her friend. Flamepaw smiled, and Foxpaw felt a sinister feeling in her gut. Flamepaw was up to something, it was easy to tell just by looking at her.
"Good," she shrugged and Foxpaw felt a yearning for Berrypaw as she realized something; that Flamepaw wasn't really her friend. She had known it for a while now, but she never wanted to admit it to herself in fear that she might regret her choice. The two just clung to each other for popularity.
Suddenly, Foxpaw felt the need to get away from Flamepaw. She stopped herself from stammering, which was the worst possible thing you could do, considering that it made you look like an idiot, "I have a training session to attend to! I'll see you later!"
Flamepaw nodded with a light smile and Foxpaw quickly ran out of camp. She felt too overwhelmed at the moment to do anything but rest. Just when she needed her most Berrypaw was lost to her, off in her world with Snakepaw, one that Foxpaw knew would end horribly.
She found herself running towards the Great Pine, a large pine tree closer to the border with OakClan. She felt reluctant to go near those borders again, but the tree there offered an amazing view, and if she climbed high enough she could rest there without anyone being able to disturb her.
Reaching the tree, she looked up into its web of leaves and branches. Taking in a deep breath she climbed her way up the trunk and nimbly jumped to one of the branches. After she had climbed up far enough she put her head on her paws and gazed at the ground below her as she slowly drifted off into another deep sleep.
When she woke up it was evening, and the sun was just beginning to set. She was about to climb down the tree when she heard a familiar voice from below.
And she was speaking to Goldenpaw.
Carefully Foxpaw slid down the branches so that she could hear them speaking, but they were unaware of her presence, "You know, Goldenpaw. I really like you," Flamepaw trailed off, "And I know it's early but I was wondering..."
It was all Foxpaw could do not to jump on Flamepaw in rage.
"You are a pretty cat, Flamepaw, but..." he trailed off and Foxpaw could tell by the expression in his eyes that he was thinking about her. Foxpaw wanted to run down and tackle Flamepaw but she knew better.
"I know you are thinking about Foxpaw but she told me herself she is not interested in you," Flamepaw sighed, "I was mad at her, of course, but she just doesn't care for you in that way."
Goldenpaw's eyes darkened, "I guess you are right," he sad sadly, "And I guess I feel the same way about you, Flamepaw. I love you just as much as you love me..." he trailed off, "that is if you do love me."
Flamepaw laughed, "Of course I do silly," she claimed pressing her fur against his, while Foxpaw struggled to fully grasp what was happening beneath her.
Goldenpaw smiled although Foxpaw could sense some sorrow in his eyes as the two paddled away, their pelts against one another.
Foxpaw swallowed hard as the two paddled away, their pelts beautifully melting against each other in the sunlight. She only realized that she had been played by Flamepaw this whole time,and she felt the longing to be beside Berrypaw again, the cat who had truly been her friend this whole time.
But Berrypaw was no longer her friend, and she couldn't hold onto the false sense of security she got from Flamepaw, anymore, after the lie she told. She had no one now.
She was all alone.
When she went to bed that night Foxpaw was playing different ways to apologize to Berrypaw in her mind, but none of them sounded right. Flamepaw was right beside her the whole time, while Goldenpaw rested father away from them. Foxpaw hadn't ditched Flamepaw; she knew that she couldn't. Her popularity and power still mattered too much for her to give it up because of Goldenpaw.
But that didn't stop her from hating Flamepaw. Foxpaw sent the she-cat a deadly glare as she slept quietly. Probably dreaming about Goldenpaw , she thought bitterly.
She rolled over trying to ignore the jealousy that pricked at her heart, and the anger she felt towards herself. How could I have been so stupid? she thought miserably, To think that a clever and witty cat like Flamepaw would keep her promise.
Rolling over again, so that she was facing Flamepaw's pretty pelt again, she sighed and shut her eyes closed, trying to force herself to fall asleep. It did no good, and she finally pulled herself out of her nest and carefully sneaked out of the den.
She knew that Berrypaw hated her, but she felt the need to be by her friend. If she wouldn't let Foxpaw near her then seeing Berrypaw was enough for the ginger apprentice.
She paddled towards the OakClan border, where she knew she would find her friend, meeting with Snakepaw. A shiver crawled down her spine at the thought of the apprentice.
She ignored the coldness of the night as she continued to walk towards the border. It wasn't long before she heard voices and she felt worry shaking her body when she heard the sound of an argument. As she took faster steps towards the border she realized that Snakepaw was the one yelling.
She closer her eyes trying to listen harder when she understood that Berrypaw wasn't yelling but... pleading...
Foxpaw felt fear clenching her heart, as she quickly ran towards the border, worrying for Berrypaw. She realized that this could just be a misunderstanding on her behalf and that Berrypaw would be so mad that she had intruded but Foxpaw couldn't stand the thought of losing the cat who was her only real friend.
She forced her feet to move faster as the sound of fighting grew even louder. She didn't even stop to look at the Great Pine as she passed it and reached the border where Snakepaw was standing, a sinister smile on his face.
When she couldn't see Berrypaw she opened her mouth to ask where her friend was. But before she could she felt something wet sticking to her feet. She looked down and screamed in horror when she noticed that it was Berrypaw's body.
"Berrypaw!" she yowled, leaning down next to her friend, "Berrypaw get back up! We will take you to camp and heal you! Please Berrypaw! I need you! I'm so sorry about all the nasty things I said to you yesterday! I understand now that you are my only true friend!" Tears rolled down her cheeks, rapidly falling and hitting to puddle of blood on the floor.
But Berrypaw was dead, lost to Foxpaw before she even had the chance to properly apologize. Foxpaw felt a new batch of tears reaching her eyes but she pushed them back, and turned to face the cat who had done this. Blood was still dripping off his claws and the look on his face made it all but clear that he had done this.
"You... killed my best friend!" she managed to screech.
He looked scared for a moment, not sure about what to say, before something seemed to posses him, giving him more confidence, "You wouldn't dare, Foxpaw," the apprentice suddenly said, "I know your deepest secrets and if you tell on me I will ruin the thing you care the most about."
Foxpaw would normally laughed at it, claiming it was bluff, but the look in his eyes made it so clear it wasn't. That was all it took for her to realize that he was dead serious.
Her eyes widened and she took a few steps back before turning around and running away from him. She wanted to avenge Berrypaw and although she told herself she would, she knew that the clan would never know.
As she raced through the woods she felt herself colliding with another cat. Tears still streaming down her eyes, she looked up to see Goldenpaw.
"Foxpaw..." he seemed hesitant, "Are you okay?"
Foxpaw pushed her head into his fur and loudly began to wail, while he stroked her fur gently.
Berrypaw was gone.
And there was nothing that Foxpaw would do about it.
"What?" Goldenwing stared at her, wide-eyed while she pulled her head down, fear entering them, as small tears rolled down her cheek.
"I'm sorry Goldenwing," Foxpelt claimed her heart pounding, "I didn't know until just last night."
"But you became a warrior just a couple days ago!" he exclaimed, "Are you sure that you are ready to handle this?"
"It doesn't matter if I am ready or not," she replied, "I have been expecting them for a while now but I have been denying it."
"I promise I will be with you every step of the way," Goldenwing claimed nuzzling her gently. Foxpelt breathed in his sweet scent. She knew that this would be tough, but if Goldenwing stayed by her side she would be able to survive.
She felt a glance on her shoulder and automatically knew it was Flamepelt. She no longer seemed interested in Foxpelt, but when she had been told that the two cats had decided to become mates the night that Berrypaw died she had been very mad at her friend.
She hadn't ditched her though and Foxpelt guessed it had been because she was afraid that she might be able to steal her popularity. "Did you tell Sageheart?"
"Yes..." Foxheart trailed off, "She told me that I was very young to be expecting kits but she thought I would survive anyways."
Goldenwing sighed with relief, "I will always be here for you Foxpelt. Don't hesitate to ask."
Foxpaw nodded and licked his cheek affectionately before retreating back into the nursery. She had moved there the previous night, while only the queens and Sageheart had known about it. But she had just told Goldenwing and cats would soon notice the fact that she was in the nursery instead of the warrior's den where they thought she belonged.
When she reached the den she put her head on her paws. She wasn't happy with the situation she was in either, but she figured that it could be worse.
At least she would be able to parent Goldenwing's kits.
Her day went by uneventful and she went to bed early that night. Somehow, the knowledge that she was carrying kits made her feel even more tired and she easily drifted to sleep that night, filled with nightmares about her kits and Goldenwing.
But when she woke up late that night, and slowly began to recall her dream, she realized that there had been a pair of eyes watching her in her dreams. Large but evil, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike if she didn't do exactly what he wanted.
The eyes of a snake.
As she pulled herself up, trying to shake those eyes out of her head she heard a sudden burst of cats entering her den. She looked up in surprise to see that several PineClan cats were flowing into camp, whispering with excitement as Foxpelt remembered that there had been a gathering that night.
The Clan was talking to each other with excitement about what had happened at the gathering. Foxpelt pricked her ears stopping to listen for a little while at all of them until one caught her attention.
"His name is Snakerattle, and I have seen him at a gathering before," she was explaining.
Snakerattle... Foxpelt realized that this was the cat that had killed Berrypaw. Her heart hardened at the memory of him and his threat.
"And he asked me to start meeting him secretly! How crazy is that?" she rolled her eyes, "I denied him of course..."
But Foxpelt wasn't listening anymore. She might not have liked Flamepelt but she was not willing to leave her at the mercy of Snakerattle. If she had denied her, then her end wouldn't be very good.
But a thought stopped her, and it was the threat that Snakerattle had made. Foxheart felt her heart beating loudly as she rested for a moment with her thoughts.
She knew that if she told Ravenstar, who was Flamepelt's father, that she would lose all of her popularity, for Snakerattle's threat was obviously a real one. But to leave Flamepelt to the fate of such a monster...
Swallowing deeply Foxpelt felt herself paddling over to the leader's den, where Ravenstar was sitting in silence.
"Is something wrong Foxpelt?" he asked when he noticed her.
Foxpelt forced herself to continue, "Yes, Ravenstar. I believe there is something I need to tell you about. And it means the difference between life and death for your daughter..."
"StarClan help me!" Foxpelt wailed as she felt her stomach twisting in pain, "I think the kits are about to come any time now!"
Goldenwing burst into the nursery as soon as he heard her call. The rest of the cats ignored her, sending her annoyed glances, "Are you okay?" he asked her.
"Do I look okay?" she snapped, "Get Sageheart!"
He nodded before quickly dashing out of the nursery. The Clan continued to ignore her, which wasn't a surprise to Foxheart. Ever since they had stopped Snakerattle from killing Ravenstar none of the Clan wanted anything to do with her, despite the fact that she had been the one to save their leader. Even Ravenstar was ignoring her as if she was a little pest.
Sageheart soon came rushing into the nursery with batched of herbs, "Are they coming, Foxpelt?"
"How would I know!" Foxpelt cried as Goldenwing watched her in growing concern. Sageheart rushed forward and put her paw on Foxpelt's stomach.
"They are coming!" she cried.
Foxpelt let out a loud screech as she felt her stomach churning horribly. Seconds later she felt a wet bundle slipping out as Sageheart ran to it and frantically began to cover it in licks.
She felt herself being shaken by another wave of pain, and with this cry came another kit which was handed to Goldenwing. The apprentices all watched from far away with disgusted looks on their face, making Foxpelt churn on the inside.
Being popular still meant so much to her, and Snakerattle had taken that from her. She had no idea how he had managed to do it, but a part of her still regretted ratting him out. She would not have been as friendless as she was at the moment.
"One left..." Sageheart soothed her, but Foxpelt was able to detect from her voice that the medicine cat was hiding something.
"What's wrong?" she asked, gritting her teeth at the pain, but Sageheart didn't reply to her question, just quickly caught the final kit that came out of Foxpelt and frantically began to lick her. When she finally put the kit down, she turned to Goldenwing with a serious expression on her face.
"Foxpelt only has a matter of minutes left before she joins StarClan... I don't know what it was but something went wrong. The kits will survive but these are your last moments with your mate."
"No!" Goldenwing's face went pale, before tears started to quickly stream down them, "This can't be real! It was all going so perfectly!"
Foxpelt stared at him in pure horror, but a part of her was expecting this. It was almost like the way her life had been revolving since she became an apprentice. Everything had bee perfectly until something not explainable turned it around. And now she was about to die.
Goldenwing quickly rushed to her side and frantically covered her in licks, "We should name them," he decided, "I want you to pick their names."
Foxpelt nodded; she had already decided what she wanted to name them, "Goldkit," she pointed at the golden tom, "and Berrykit," she pointed at the silver one with her tail.
"I want this one to be Foxkit," Goldenwing claimed and Foxpelt nodded slowly. She could feel her vision starting to fade as her world began to spin away.
She found herself gazing deep into the eyes of all her kits. How far away her dreams to become the greatest cat in the clan seemed now.
Seems like only yesterday
I was playing those children game
When I used to dream really big
And made those precious claims
"Goodbye," she whispered, "Look after our kits."
She knew that no one besides Goldenwing cared. It shouldn't bother her, but it did. She felt the need to be noticed and cared for. It was just who she was.
And Snakerattle had stolen that from her.
Look at me now
Covered in guilt and endless despair
Left to die with one cat
The only one who cared.
"I will," he claimed, "I promise."
In turn she licked each of her kits, they were so precious to her.
A poisoned little snake
And several mistakes
Left with no best friend or family
I will die as just me and him. Him and me.
She closed her eyes, as the world began to spin.
I guess this is how it was meant
Not an ending sweet nor tart
But this is my life
That of a Crimson Heart.
Blackness took over as fate began to call her name.
And for once, she didn't fight back.