'* Note: This fanfiction was written before Yellowfang's Secret was released.
Some say my ragged pelt was caused by fighting as a kit.
That, my friends, is incorrect.
You see, I was not a fighter as a kit, merely quite adventurous and rather curious. My mother found me cute.
So I proved to her! I escaped. And, of course, being the kit that I was, had to explore every inch of our territory - including the large bramble patch by the RiverClan border. Those thorns ripped half of my pelt out! My mother decided to change my name.
All because of my curiosity.
So, then Crowkit, my name was changed to Raggedkit.
Which I think suited me a whole lot better.
Chapter One - Ragged
I curled up into the belly of my mother, her soft, rising and falling flank soothing me into sleep.
I'm woken up the next morning by an excited announcement - Fernpool is having kits!
Finally, I'll have some denmates to play with.
I was two moons old by the time Fernpool's kits were born - they came a few moons late, and Sagewhisker had been worried. But the pale gray queen had pulled through, and given birth to three (I'll admit it - cute) kits, two toms and a she-cat.
The first tom, a black and white patchy kit, was named, of course, Patchkit. He had blue eyes, and I think he liked me. The second tom, was a pale brown tabby with darker stripes, paws, muzzle, ears, and tail. His name was Darkkit. The third kit, a she-cat, was a dark gray with large yellow eyes, distinct from her blue-eyed brothers. Fernpool named her Yellowkit.
It was a warm day, and Fernpool and my mother, Ashwing, were dozing in the sunshine. Patchkit and Darkkit were snoozing like badgers, but Yellowkit was wide awake and cleaning herself. She was curious and fiesty, and the one I'd have to sneak past if I wanted to make it out of camp.
So I creaped up behind Fernpool and blew in her ear. The queen woke with a start, heaving Patchkit and Darkkit off of her warm flank and pitching them on top of Yellowkit. The whole commotion caused half of the Clan to come running, but by then, I was safely outside of the camp entrance.
I was free!
I scampered around, overturned leaves and wriggled under bushes. I clawed at a few trunks of the biggest trees, and then ripped down a whole tree!
Finally, after wandering for the longest time ever, I stumbled upon a large patch of tangled vine-type things and leaves and what appeared to be thorns. However, it was right next to the RiverClan border, and we were pretty friendly with them, so I assumed it wouldn't be harmful, afterall, we wouldn't want our allies getting cut up by some measly old plants!
I left patches of fur in the brambles, so much that my pelt was ragged for days!
"What are you doing?"
The curious little voice startled me so much I almost went jumping back into the brambles, but I turned slowly to see Yellowkit staring at me with her trademark yellow eyes.
"I--I was exploring," I said loftily. "And you're not allowed out of camp."
Yellowkit thought for a minute. "Neither are you," she retorted. "And you seem to have paid for it."
I looked back at my pelt - and the half of it that remained in the brambles. "No, I decided to donate some. It must be cold for the brambles in leaf-bare."
Yellowkit snorted. "Yeah, right. Just admit it, I scared you into jumping there."
"You never even saw me in there!"
"Oh?" Yellowkit arched an eyebrow. Her yellow eyes glittered mischeivously, and I wondered just what the little kit had in mind. "How do you know? How do you know I haven't been stalking you since you blew in my mother's ear and caused her to dump my brothers on me?"
"I--" I was at loss for words. Curious, no-good kit.
"Well," I retorted, drawing myself up, "if I said that you scaring me into the bramble patch while you were stalking me, and you are encouraging me to say so, then that would give fault to your tracking skills!"
"Ah, but I have none," shot back the kit. "See, you never heard me, you know it."
"What are you trying to say?" I asked, suddenly confused. "What do you mean?"
"I don't know," chirped Yellowkit. She skipped away, and I was left staring dumbfounded.
I hurried after her.
"Does-does this make my pelt look ragged?"
"Yes," she purred.
"Don't tell my mother," I pleaded. "I don't want her to think I'm a fool."
"Tell her we were fighting!"
"I-I'll be there in a moment!"
When her gray tail vanished, I collapsed next to the bramble patch, breathing heavily and too tired to think.
Chapter Two - Raggedkit
"How come I'm not Crowkit anymore?"
"Because your pelt is ragged, Raggedkit. We've been over this."
Ashwing turned away. I turned away too, and found Yellowkit's yellow-amber eyes right in front of my own. I stepped back in alarm, right onto Ashwing's tail. She hissed, and batted me away. I stumbled into Yellowkit, who purred in amusement.
"Silly," she mewed.
"You shouldn't have been fighting," Ashwing said angrily. "Otherwise you'd still be beautiful."
"I still am beautiful!" I protested.
"Yeah," snorted Yellowkit, hopping away. "Right."
"Your mentor will be Palefoot."
I touched noses with the tom, catching Yellowkit's murderous glare. I had decided not to wait for her and her brothers to have my apprentice ceremony - after all, I would've had to wait two moons!
"I'll be an apprentice in two moons," sassed Yellowkit. "So there!" Patchkit and Darkkit just watched mournfully. They didn't talk much, and gave no sign of acknowledging anyone but their mother.
I knew from overhearing Cedarstar, Stonetooth, and Sagewhisker talking that Patchkit and Darkkit might not make it into warriorhood. They were pretty sickly as it was, and both nearly deaf, she had said. Yellowkit was a tough little one.
I was surprised that both had survived it four moons into kithood! It was a wonder they didn't get eaten by a hawk, or some large animal. Afterall, just a moon ago a badger attacked - the camp! - and both of them survived.
"I'll take you on a tour of the territory, first," Palefoot told me.
Two other apprentices - Archpaw and Foxpaw - trotted up to us. "Bluecloud says I can come!" Foxpaw mewed.
Foxpaw was only a moon older than me - and she hadn't waited for me as an apprentice either. She and Archpaw were litermates.
"I wonder what my warrior name will be," mused Archpaw as Palefoot led the three of us out of camp.
"I bet the last part will be enemy," teased Foxpaw. "Archenemy!" Archpaw swiped playfully at her, and she ducked, hopping smoothly over his back.
"Perhaps we should have battle training first," reckoned Palefoot. "C'mon, you three."
My mentor abruptly changed direction and led us away toward the training place.
It was a gap in the pine trees, with soft needles on the grund to cushion us if we fell. "Foxpaw--be a good cat and go bring us Bluecloud," instructed Palefoot. "I don't want to be the only warrior in with a bunch of brawling apprentices."
"Okay!" Foxpaw said cheerily, and raced away.
I liked Foxpaw.
"Okay," Bluecloud, Foxpaw's mentor, said a few moments later. Her blue-gray fur was spiked up from her run, but her blue eyes were shining with anticipation. "Foxpaw, stand right over there, Raggedpaw--right there."
I followed her direction, proud with my new name.
"Now, Raggedpaw, when Foxpaw comes at you, leap over her head and twist so you land behind her. Wait for her to skid around so you can start swiping at her front. Back her up and force her against a tree so she has no way to escape," Bluecloud instructed. She glanced at Palefoot to make sure she could help his apprentice, and he nodded. "Like this."
Bluecloud demonstrated the moves in all of a few seconds, but with no enemy to encounter, it went smoother than I would have expected.
"Okay. Get ready!"
"Go," yowled Palefoot.
Foxpaw sat back on her haunches, staring at me expectantly. I stumbled, confused, before sitting and staring at her with the same gaze.
She laughed, stood up, stretched, and charged toward me. Taken by surprise, I reared up on my hind paws and pushed off, flying over her back and landing behind her.
"Ouch!" she cried. I moved my paw. I landed on her tail.
Foxpaw wheeled around, growling menacingly. She swung her weight from foot to foot as she slunk toward me, her tail and ears flat. She looked quite frightening, I must admit.
I dashed toward her and closed my eyes, making sure my claws were sheathed before I swiped at her face.
"Ow, that hurt!" I opened my eyes and sat back, to see Foxpaw rubbing her cheek angrily. A large red mark was swelling below her eye.
"I didn't do that, did I?"
"Of course you did, frog-brain!" Archpaw was watching, wide-eyed.
Foxpaw broke into a purr. "Just kidding! It doesn't hurt, not really."
"Good!" I returned her smile, and Archpaw rolled his eyes, muttering.
"Archpaw and Raggedpaw, next," instructed Palefoot. "But this time, do it a bit like this..."
Chapter Three - Raggedpaw
"For someone whose fur is patchy from fighting as a kit--"
"Oh, shut up, Yellowpaw," I growled goodnaturedly. Yellowpaw was sitting on her haunches, just like Foxpaw had done three moons ago.
We were in the training clearing, with Foxpaw, Bluecloud, Archpaw, his mentor Ripplenose, Hollypaw, Yellowpaw, and her mentor Rosefoot.
Rosefoot was directing us in a team attack.
"...you want to go for that clump of pine needles, and we'll go for the ferns. Got it?"
"Yup!" the five of us apprentices cheered. It was mentors against apprentices, each apprentice pitted against his or her own mentor. Since Hollypaw and I were those without mentors, we could go for anyone we wanted. Or we could go for the pine needles - which was part of my plan.
"Okay, make your plan with your team," Rosefoot instructed, and she, Ripplenose, and Bluecloud gathered together.
"I have a plan," I said conspiratorially once the five of us gathered together. I explained my tactics to the other apprentices, and Yellowpaw made a face.
"But that's not fair," she protested. "I wanna go for the needles."
"Shush!" Archpaw hushed. Hollypaw smiled dreamily at him.
"This isn't a time to be mooning over your crush," I interjected, and added a cough that, according to Foxpaw, as she said later, sounded remarkably like 'Hollypaw'.
"Hrmph," grumped Hollypaw, but we formulated our plan long before the mentors were finished.
We lined up in a single attack line, as Rosefoot stood behind Ripplenose and Bluecloud. Huh. Some method of concealment.
"Go!" yowled Brackenpaw, a fellow apprentice who was sitting this training session out because of a sprained leg. He hauled himself out of the way of the now-fighting cats.
I charged for the pine needles, away of Ripplenose tearing away from Archpaw and attempting to intercept me. I spun around to face Ripplenose and gave Archpaw a wave of my tail as he hurried for the needles.
I swiped, claws sheathed, at Ripplenose's head. He ducked instinctively.
Bluecloud had broken away from fighting with Foxpaw to take care of Archpaw, and Foxpaw hared away towards the pine needles. The same thing happened - Rosefoot leaped after Foxpaw, Yellowpaw began to run, and I scurried along behind her, fending off her attackers.
"I'm there!" yowled Yellowpaw triumphantly.
The mentors stopped fighting, breathing heavily, while Foxpaw, Archpaw, Hollypaw, and I crowded around Yellowpaw, cheering.
"But you said...you said...you wanted...to go for the....pine needles," gasped Ripplenose.
"It was part of the plan," Yellowpaw mewed, as though it was obvious. Ripplenose groaned and collapsed. We laughed, and Bluecloud nudged him to his feet.
"We'll get you back sometime," she muttered. "We'll get you back."
Foxpaw and Yellowpaw were both sitting in front of the nursery, cringing every time Oakbreeze yowled out in pain.
"Is she kitting?" I asked, walking up with three frogs in my mouth.
Foxpaw nodded, her mouth clamped tightly shut. Oakbreeze was her sister from an older litter, and the two cared greatly for each other.
I tossed a frog at Foxpaw and settled down next to Yellowpaw, nudging the slimy frog toward her. "Eat."
I had already devoured my frog by the time Yellowpaw looked down at the prey and pushed it away, her broad face still angled toward the nursery.
"Do you think she's okay?"
"I'm sure she is," I said, reassuring Yellowpaw and Foxpaw.
I was wrong.
Chapter Four - Raggedpelt
Foxpaw shuffled her paws as she watched her sister's body be prepared for burial.
"Bye Oakbreeze," she whispered, her voice so soft that I almost couldn't hear it. "Enjoy yourself in StarClan, sister."
Foxpaw had already lost both of her parents, and now her sister. Her other sister, Willowpaw, was nearing death from a deadly sickness that had swept through camp and taken a few of our cats.
"What are you moping about?" snarled a voice next to my ear. A pale brown tabby she-cat with a white belly and squinty yellow eyes was breathing her foul breath in my face. Lizardpaw.
"None of your business, Lizardpaw," I retorted. The rude apprentice made a face and stalked off after Mudpaw, an apprentice older than Foxpaw, Yellowpaw, Archpaw, Hollypaw, Brackenpaw, and I. Lizardpaw was Hollypaw and Brackenpaw's sister, and she was a real brat.
"How is she your sister?" I inquired of Hollypaw, who just shook her head.
"I don't know. She was...okay as a kit, I suppose, she just got a ton more...mean...in apprenticeship. I think she believes that we're all trying to steal Mudpaw from her or something."
"Frog-brain," I muttered.
Roughly twelve moons later, we all got our warrior names. Mudclaw, the jerk, was watching us smugly as the newly named Lizardstripe cooed beside him. She shot us a narrow-eyed, leering grin.
Foxheart's face was stony. Willowpaw had died just recently, but had earned her warrior name just before death, granted by Cedarstar. StarClan received her as Willownose.
Yellowfang and Archeye hurried toward me, purring loudly. Brackenfoot and Hollyflower were chatting as they ate fresh-kill together.
"We finally got our names," Yellowfang said excitedly, beckoning Foxheart over. The ginger she-cat padded slowly toward us, her eyes unfocused but angled at her feet.
"A-Are you okay, Foxheart?"
Foxheart shrugged her ginger shoulders, and settled down next to me. I slid her a large frog, but she pushed it back, mumbling something about not feeling like eating.
"Eat," I insisted. "Otherwise I'll get Sagewhisker to make you eat."
Foxheart stuck her tongue out half-heartedly at me, sighed, and padded away, making a pointed attempt to grab a piece of prey off of the fresh-kill. I watched her drag it into the warriors' den, and saw her shadow as she settled down.
I sighed. "Want to go for a walk, Yellowfang?"
"Please," Yellowfang said, standing up and stretching. Before we headed out of camp, I saw Foxheart emerge from the warriors' den and head out into the woods.
"So...?" Yellowfang turned expectantly to me as we wove among the trees, her gray ears perked as she waited for my answer.
"Oh...not much," I said carefully. I kept walking, but Yellowfang stopped, spinning on her foot and giving me a matter-of-fact look. Her yellow-amber eyes were suspicious.
"Raggedpelt, you wouldn't take me out into the forest on the first day of our warriorhood just to tell me 'not much'."
I sighed, and gestured for the new warrior with my tail to sit across from me. Yellowfang remained standing, appraising.
"Fine. Fine, Yellowfang...I..."
"Spit it out," persisted Yellowfang, wrapping her fluffy tail around her paws.
"I...I like you, Yellowfang," I mumbled, my words getting jumbled as I lost my nerve. Yellowfang purred happily.
"I like you too, Raggedpelt. Now, what were you going to say?"
I suddenly felt as though I didn't want to tell her my true feelings. It seemed as though she had dismissed me so quickly, my words were so...easily discarded.
"It's nothing, Yellowfang. I mean--never mind, just forget about it."
"Raggedpelt..." Yellowfang's voice got sympathetic. She saw that she hurt me. "Raggedpelt...I like you. I like you a lot. But...there's something I have to tell you too."
I raised my head from my study of my paws. "Yes?"
"I...I don't know if I want to be a warrior anymore."
"But you can't just retire," I cried. I leaped up, my fur on end. Yellowfang looked almost frightened as she took a step back, but regained her positive demeanor within moments.
"That's not what I meant," Yellowfang replied calmly. "I want to be a medicine cat."
My heart was broken.
Chapter Five - Raggedstar
"I'm expecting your kits," Yellowfang informed me the next day as we padded along through the forest. ShadowClan's medicine cat required an escort, and what better an escort than her own Clan leader?
I knew her intentions would stray from herb gathering, though, as she strayed from the path we normally took.
Without missing a beat in my rhythmic path, I told her, "You can tell Ashwing," without looking around.
Yellowfang swerved into my path, eyes blazing. Her fur was fluffed out, and her slightly snub-nosed face was a mask of fury. Her thick, patchy tail was waving angrily behind her, and she pawed at the ground before looking up at me and giving an answer.
"No?" I cried. "No? I'm your leader, you will tell my mother that you are expecting my kits."
I expected Yellowfang to explode that she was my medicine cat, that she didn't take orders from me, that our time together was over, but she just dropped her head and sighed, looking up at me with suddenly fire-less eyes, the fight leaving her exhausted body. She collapsed next to an old tree, gasping for breath, flanks heaving. She turned her head away from me, letting the breeze waft towards her through the bunch of pine trees. When she spoke, her voice was soft.
"Raggedstar, I'm your medicine cat. When I have these kits, I won't have them in camp. I'd be giving up my medicine duties, and Sagewhisker is too old to start apprenticing a new cat. Everyone can know these are your kits, but no one can know that they are mine."
I let my head hang, partially to hide my expression of relief.
"Tell everyone they're Foxheart's kits," Yellowfang grumbled after a moment, heaving herself to her feet and ripping up a few stalks of herbs before trudging back to camp.
"Oh, Yellowfang," I sighed, once I was alone in the forest. "What have we done?"
"There was a...disturbing noise from the border, Raggedstar," Foxheart reported, her eyes shining as she stared up at me. Over the past few moons, she had grown to like me, although I still held feelings for Yellowfang. No one know of our secret relationship - which I had ended, despite my continuing feelings - but I wasn't ready to move on. Not yet, at least.
"I'll go check it out," I said heavily. "I'm just going to go get something from Yellowfang...I've been..."
I left Foxheart hanging without a symptom to pester me about, and hurried towards the medicine cats' den, poking my head in, and then tumbling forward as Sagewhisker slapped me lightly with a paw.
"She's not here," Sagewhisker said, searching my eyes. "I think you know--"
"I do, thanks!" I cried after her, stumbling out of the den and blinking like the herbs Sagewhisker had just given me were suddenly bursting into effect. As I scrambled past Foxheart, I replied to her questioning glance, "All better, thanks for worrying, going out to the forest for a stroll, just needed some alone time, see you, bye!"
I forced my legs faster, until I was bounding through the undergrowth, speeding like a bird. I could barely feel my feet touching the forest floor, brushing the pine needles that littered the cushioning layer of dirt.
A loud groan met my ears, and I called out frantically, "Yellowfang? Yellowfang, where are you, Yellowfang, it's me, Raggedstar!"
"Raggedstar!" My name had never been met with more relief. "Raggedstar, I'm over here."
I followed my love's voice around a clump of trees, and then spotted her in the rare,hollowed-out belly of a tall, old, pine tree, whose branches, tipped with razor-sharp, green needles, pierced the fluffy, cloudy sky. I grinned at the sight of her, with three kits curled at her belly, however, I started once I smelled the stench of death lingering in the air.
"Two dead," Yellowfang muttered dully. "I'm sorry. Only our son is alive."
Exactly what he was, was, however, cut off by a snarling behind us. I spun around, expecting to see some of my own warriors, blaming my medicine cat and I for treachery, Foxheart at the head of the group with a look of vindicive pleasure on her face...But instead, I was met with a snarling, red-furred fox, pink lips pulled back against a white, gray-speckled muzzle.
It didn't take much to chase off the weak, elderly animal in desperate search of food. I escaped with barely a scratch, while the enemy went fleeing as soon as it smelled its own blood.
"He's beautiful," I promised Yellowfang, "and I'll love him just as much as I love you."