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This story is by IcewrathXFeatherswirlXCraneheart and it won 1st place in Ash's contest.

Chapter 1: Wolfpaw

Wolfpaw padded into the ThunderClan camp with a pheasant in his jaws.

"Well done, Wolfpaw!" his father, and mentor, Jaystar purred.

Wolfpaw shrugged and meowed, "It's just a pheasant."

He padded on and put it on the fresh-kill pile and sat down to groom his sleek black fur, and get all the dirt from the white socks on his front paws. He stared into a small pool and saw his reflection. He was a very handsome tom with light blue eyes.

He settled down to watch the clouds drift across the sky. He was bewildered by it all. The clear blue of the endless sky. The large, fluffy, white clouds that floated gracefully on the most windless of days. The graceful soaring of eagles as they circled above. The cool, light breeze of the upcoming leaf-bare.

"Wolfpaw!" a she-cat's voice squealed.

"It's Wolfpaw!" another meowed.

He was suddenly surrounded by a mob consisting of six she-cat apprentices. Their names were Spottedpaw, Skypaw, Amberpaw, Snowpaw, Hollypaw, and Leafpaw.

Spottedpaw was a dark brown, graceful she-cat with blue eyes and black spots that shimmered on her pelt.

Skypaw was a silver she-cat with light blue eyes, like his.

Amberpaw was a ginger she-cat with green eyes.

Snowpaw was a totally white she-cat with amber eyes.

Hollypaw was a dark ginger she-cat with black spots and deep amber eyes.

Leafpaw was a light brown she-cat with green eyes.

And they were all very pretty, but not as pretty as one certain cat...

"Wolfpaw! You are so handsome!" Hollypaw squealed.

The she-cats went on with the praises as he shot a sympathetic glance at the two other apprentice toms, named Dustpaw and Snakepaw, who were staring at them.

The apprentice she-cats were all beautiful, but there was only one she-cat that occupied his thoughts.

He stared across the clearing at Duckpaw. She was a beautiful tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes. She was sitting there sorting herbs for her mentor. He sighed as he recalled that she had no interest in toms, especially because it was against the warrior cat code.

He continued to stare. She was so closed off from all toms, except her brother, whose name was Snakepaw, but he was determined to at least become friends with her, if not more.

Where is the wave that will carry me

A little closer to you?

Chapter 2: Duckpaw

Duckpaw sat beside the medicine cat, aware of a pair of eyes on her. She looked up to Wolfpaw staring at her.

What? Is he angry because I don't come tripping over my paws to coo over him? she asked herself, a hint of scorn lingering. She couldn't see what the big deal was about that black tom. She only saw another apprentice. Snakepaw, her brother, padded over and she purred. She loved her brother dearly.

"Looking at Wolfpaw, sis?" Snakepaw teased.

"No!" she shook her head.

"What are you doing, Duckpaw?" Snakepaw asked.

"Sorting herbs into good and weathered piles, then I am going to seperate the good herbs," Duckpaw explained.

Snakepaw pretended to yawn, "Well, Duckpaw. Tomorrow I'll be explaining things to you."

"Why?" Duckpaw asked.

"All of the apprentices get their ceremonies tonight," said Snakepaw, his tawny golden eyes shimmering.

Duckpaw's mentor came out of her den meowed, "Get ready to go to the Moonpool. You get your full medicine cat name tonight. You can do that later."

Duckpaw shot a smug glance at her brother and scraped all the herbs back into the den.

She and Dapplefur prepared themselves and started off to meet the other medicine cats by the stream.

"Hi, Duckpaw!" her friend, Mintpaw meowed, padding up next to her. "What's new?"

Duckpaw smiled, "I'm getting my full medicine cat ceremony tonight."

"Well done, Duckpaw!" Goosewing, a kind, old tom medicine cat, meowed.

Mintpaw's eyes widened. "Wow!" she gushed, "You are so lucky! It will be? ages? before I get my ceremony." She shot a glance at Goosewing, who was smiling at the two youths fondly.

"It will come," she reassured her friend.

The medicine cats arrived at the Moonpool.

The medicine cats gathered around as Dapplefur started the ceremony, "Duckpaw, is it your wish to become a full medicne cat and serve the Clan by healing them and upholding the medicine cat code, to be loyal and hard-working as the medicine cat for the rest of your days?"

"It is!" Duckpaw meowed.

"Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your full medicine cat name. You will be known as Duckflight."

"Duckflight! Duckflight! Duckflight!" the medicine cats chanted.?

Duckflight beamed and lapped some of the water from the Moonpool after settling at the water's edge. Her dream took her to the bright, pretty forest of StarClan.

"Hello, Duckflight..."

She turned to see her grandmother, Cinderclaw.

"Cinderclaw!" Duckflight rejoiced at the sight of her kin, who had died of greencough when she had been a kit.

The young, swift wolf will hunt the pretty mallard...

"What?" Duckflight meowed, "What does that mean?"

StarClan faded away, leaving Duckflight more confused than ever.

More things than are dreamed about

Unseen and unexplained...

Chapter 3: Wolfpaw

"Wolfpaw, Snakepaw, Hollypaw, Snowpaw, Amberpaw, Leafpaw, Spottedpaw, Skypaw, and Dustpaw, do you all promise to uphold the warrior code and protect and serve the Clan at the cost of your life, if necessary?" Jaystar asked, his eyes gleaming with pride at his son.

"I do!" the apprentices said in unision.

"Then by the powers of StarClan you nine are now Wolfhowl, Snakeeye, Hollyflight, Snowwing, Amberdrop, Leafflutter, Spottedhead, Skytuft, and Dustclaw! StarClan honors your skill and bravery and we welcome you all as full members of ThunderClan!"

"Wolfhowl! Snakeeyes! Hollyflight! Snowwing! Amberdrop! Leafflutter! Spottedhead! Skytuft! Dustclaw!" the Clan chanted.

Wolfhowl wished Duckpaw, or whatever her name was now, was here to see this, but she would probably be focuseed on her brother, not him. The new she-cat warriors were chanting his name over and over again, however.

I wish they could start seeing that I am not interested! he thought, frustration spreading through every hair on his pelt.

"Wolfhowl! Wolfhowl!" the she-cats shreiked.

"Will you be my mate?" one asked.

"No! I called him first!" another said.

"No! He's mine!" another yowled.

"Stop!" he shouted, his temper boiling over, "I am not interested!"

He stormed away, his pelt growing hot as the she-cats stared in shock as he disappeared into the forest.

"Wait! You need to sit vigil!" Jaystar said.

Wolfhowl ignored him and stormed on. It was dawn anyway. As he went to the lake he saw Duckpaw walking to camp with her mentor.

He poked his head out of the bushes and hissed, "Duck! Duckpaw!"

Duckpaw turned and went into the bushes.

"You have to help me!" Wolfhowl pleaded, "All the she-cats love me, but I only love one cat."

"I'm Duckflight now," she said, "And I don't know how I can help."

Duckflight! How nice!

Wolfhowl stared into her pretty eyes and he felt words of love crawling up his throat, but he snapped them back. He couldn't do this now.

"N-nevermind!" he stammered, looking away.

But I believe there's a ghost of a chance we can find someone to love

And make it last...

Chapter 4: Duckflight

Duckflight yawned. The night at the Moonpool had exhausted her and she really needed to rest. She rearranged her moss and settled down. Then she remembered her encounter with Wolfhowl. She found it strange.

What could he have wanted? she wondered.

She remembered the spooky prophecy she had recieved earlier at the Moonpool.

The young, swift wolf will hunt the pretty mallard...

She knew that the wolf must be Wolfhowl, but she had no idea what a mallard was, and she didn't think any of the Clan knew either.

She dozed the day away, then woke in the evening with her stomach growling like a hostile togue. She hadn't eaten since before the visit to the Moonpool. She dragged herself to the fresh-kill pile and chose a big, plump pheasant. Of course, she would need to share it, so she sat next to Snakeeyes, who had run up to her excited the moment she had stepped into camp that morning.

"Duckflight!" Snakeeyes purred.

"Hi, Snakeeyes."

Duckflight set the pheasant down and tore into it ravenously.

"Share much?" Snakeeyes teased.

"For that you're not going to get treated when you get a thorn in your pad!" she teased back.

Snakeeyes cried, "No! Not that!" Then he added, "I'm not that hungry anyway." He stood and streched, padding away to the warriors' den to sleep.

Duckflight still felt like she could sleep for a moon, but she knew that Dapplefur needed rest, too. She would just have to keep herself awake, as the rest of the Clan slept.

Slowly, she kept eating, savoring the bites, because leaf-bare was rushing up fast, and slowly, cats left the clearing and went to sleep.

Duckflight took the remains of her pheasant into the den and ate while sorting herbs, shivering at the chilly night breeze flowing into the den.

"You cold?" she felt a warm figure next to her.

She looked through the dim light, "Wolfhowl?"

"I thought you would be lonely and cold, up all by yourself," he murmured.

"Well, you can make yourself useful and hang moss in the den entrance to make it warmer in here. Want some pheasant?"

"Ok and sure." Wolfhowl took a bite of the pheasant and he took some moss from the storage and started draping it over the entrance.

It got much warmer after a few minutes, "Thanks."

"Anytime," Wolfhowl meowed.

Was it just her imagination, or was that a hint of a purr in his warm voice? Was there a glint of love in his light blue eyes?

"Ummmm... Duckflight..." Wolfhowl began, "I need to ask you something..."

"What is it?" she asked, nervous.

"Well..." his eyes shifted from her to Dapplefur, then he shuffled his paws and sighed, "Nevermind."

Duckflight grew bewildered once again and she wondered, for the second time that day, what was going through that tom's head.

What am I supposed to do?

Where are the words to answer you?

Chapter 5: Wolfhowl

Wolfhowl woke in his new nest in the warriors' den feeling horrbile. Last night had been awful. How could he be a warrior if he couldn't tell the one cat he truly loved that he loved her.

Wolfhowl pushed it away and decided to start fresh today, and he decided that today would be the day that he told Duckflight his feelings. He padded over to the fresh kill pile and grabbed a mouse.

Skytuft came up and licked him on the cheek and purred. He drew away, disgusted.

As if a silent signal went of all of the she cats with crushes on him were over there and mooning over him.

He ran into the forest with his mouse, angered. Sometimes, he wished he wasn't the most handsome tom in the Clan. It was such a hassle, trying to please his father and Clan and trying to not make any she-cats too upset.

He sat by the shore and ate his mouse in peace, letting the sunlight soak into his black fur. He spotted Duckflight a bit away on the shore, her eyes closed and her head bent low.

An elder was at her paws, rasping.

"It is my time, Duckflight. Even you can't save me now..." the elder rasped.

"Shadeface!" he recognized the blood covered elder as his grandfather. He had also been Duckflight's mentor and an older, loyal friend

"Don't go..." Duckflight choked out.

"What happened to him?" Wolfhowl cried, rushing up.

"He was attacked by a ShadowClan apprentice," Duckflight meowed, she coated his wounds with cobwebs and poultices, "I tried everything, but his wounds are too fatal and deep."

Wolfhowl wrapped his tail around her, but she pulled away sharply.

"Look," Shadeface's voice shook, "A pretty mallard!" His old face folded into a warm smile as he stared to the sky.

Wolfhowl and Duckflight looked into the sky, where a duck flew overhead. He saw Duckflight stiffen. They looked back down at the smiling elder, who heaved his last breath and closed his eyes.

Wolfhowl bent his head and touched his nose to Duckflight's cheek, who seemed to relax, though she looked around nervously.

"Duckflight.... I know this isn't the best time, but, I love you." Wolfhowl meowed.

Duckflight's face stretched into a smile filled with love, but she yanked her gaze away and her eyes grew cold.

"No!" sh snapped, "I can't love you, Wolfhowl. I just can't. StarClan warned me..." she broke off and turned away.

"But if StarClan knew this would happen, then it should be ok," Wolfhowl tried to hide the flowing river of upset emotions that was swelling inside.

She turned and snarled, "No!" Then she raced off into the forest.

Wolfhowl started to cry like a kit, next to his dead grandfather, in the middle of the scent of the love of his life.

What did I see,

Fool that I was?

Chapter 6: Duckflight

Duckflight padded stiffly through the forest.

How dare Wolfhowl believe that it's ok for us to be mates...

But she couldn't help but admire his courage and what he went through to love her and she felt bad for just leaving him there to cry, next to his dead grandfather on top of that. She was a medicine cat after all. Yet, she couldn't stop herself from starting to love him back.

She turned around and headed back to the lakeshore, where she saw Wolfhowl crying next to Shadeface.

She went up to him silently and whispered, "I love you, too, and I am so sorry."

Wolfhowl looked up, his face fur wet with tears. She leaned on his shoulder for a minute, then got back up.

"We should take Shadeface back to camp for vigil," she meowed softly.

Wolfhowl nodded and picked up the dead elder by his scruff. Duckflight laid her tail on his shoulders comfortingly until they got to camp.

"Wolfhowl! Wolfhowl! Wolfhowl!" a bunch of the she-cats were squealing, "He killed a cat from another Clan! He's a hero!"

Duckflight scowled at the she-cats. Dumb she-cats...

Wolfhowl was crying even more. Duckflight growled then leapt in front of him with a snarl, scaring the she-cats and pushing them back.

"You mouse-brains!" she spat, "Can't you see that he's crying? Can't you figure out that he wouldn't bring a cat he killed back to our camp? Can't you figure out that it is Shadeface he is carrying?"

"We didn't..." Hollyflight began, her eyes wide.

"Go away!" Wolfhowl yowled angrily.

The she-cats began to file away.

"Thanks, Duckflight," Wolfhowl murmured, setting Shadeface's body down.

Duckflight nodded and smiled.

"I'll meet you later," he whispered.

Duckflight nodded, but she felt guilty. Two halves of herself were battling...

The universe divided,

As the heart and mind collided.

Chapter 7: Wolfhowl

"There you are!" Wolfhowl purred. Dawn was seeping through the forest as Duckflight padded into the clearing. The sunlight touched her pelt and it filled Wolfhowl with a warm feeling. He nuzzled her.

Duckflight sighed and smiled. "How long can we hide this," she meowed.

"Well, not for long, if you keep forgetting to leave carefully," a voice sounded behind him.

Wolfhowl turned around to see Snakeeyes, "This is just great."

Duckflight hung her head. "You won't tell, right?" she asked hopefully.

"No... but the best thing to do so nobody else finds out is to give up your duties. Say that warrior life is calling you."

Wolfhowl nodded. That was a no-complication solution.

Duckflight turned to him, "Should I?"

"Definitely, my love," Wolfhowl purred, "But it's your ultimate decision."

Duckflight nodded to Wolfhowl's excitement, "Ok, I'll do it."

The world instantly turned perfect in Wolfhowl's mind. He could have a mate at last and they could watch the nature as their kits tumbled over them and batted at butterflies.

The three padded back to camp where Jaystar had called a meeting. Jaystar smiled fondly at him, then turned his attention to Duckflight who was standing next to him talking.

"ShadowClan has attacked one of our beloved elders, Shadeface. We will all mourn for his loss," Jaystar meowed, bowing his head, then continuing, "He was a loved and respected warrior: brave in battle and always loyal. It is time to avenge his death, but first I have a few announcements."

Wolfhowl smiled. It was time for Duckflight to be a warrior. He didn't think she would need any training. Besides being a great medicine cat, she was an excellent hunter and Snakeeyes had taken her out to fight a few times. She was quite good at it.

"Dapplefur has decided to give up her medicine cat duties and move to the elders' den!"

Wolfhowl's jaw dropped in horror. What had made him think this would go without a problem?

You can't have something for nothing.

Chapter 8: Duckflight

Duckflight's eyes widened and her mouth fell open. She could feel Wolfhowl stiffening in shock next to her. Snakeeyes whispered, "I'm so sorry."

"And now, Duckflight wanted to tell us something."

Duckflight felt all eyes on her, and her pelt grew hot and she stammered, "Oh, uh, I wanted to be a.... a w-warrior."

The Clan gasped and Jaystar silenced them with a flick of his tail, "Why?"

"B-because..."

"I love her!" Wolfhowl stepped forward, his eyes closed. Duckflight was bewildered. Why would he take the blame. It was ultimately her decision, but by the look in his eyes, she could tell that he was trying to spare her the humiliation.

"A-and I won't be the medicine cat!" Duckflight shouted, stuttering a bit, "I- I refuse because I love him, too!"

The whole Clan was gasping and bristling.

"Very well," Jaystar hissed, "Dapplefur, I am afraid you must hold your duties a bit longer. Duckflight is no longer ThunderClan!"

"What?" Snakeeyes demanded, his voice roaring in the shocked silence.

"My kit!" Jaystar snarled, "I thought you would choose a beautiful, sensible she-cat warrior, not some ugly, butterfly-brained medicine cat!"

From the corner of her eye, she saw Skytuft and Leafflutter raise their noses into the air.

Wolfhowl bristled, "She is not ugly or flutter-brained! She is beautiful, skillful, and smart. You must be talking about those fox-brains over there."

"You're a disgrace!" Jaystar roared, "My only kit and he falls in love with..." He broke off spitting angrily.

Duckflight was horrified. Was this what the leader thought she was? Was this what she had caused?

"I'm going with Duckflight and I don't care what anybody says about it!"

Duckflight smiled at his faith to her.

"Me, too!" Snakeeyes spat.

Duckflight grew warm inside, as she, her mate, and her brother strode out of ThunderClan camp. She was with loved ones, and she knew exactly where to go.

Fly by night away from here

Change my life again.

Chapter 9: Wolfhowl

"Where do we go, Duckflight?" Wolfhowl asked, stopping with Snakeeyes and Duckflight at the border of WindClan territory.

"I know we will be welcomed into RiverClan. My friend, Mintpaw is there. I know she will be very pleased," Duckflight replied, without hesitation.

"Good. Then off we go!" Snakeeyes meowed.

Wolfhowl led the way across the border and the padded across the WindClan moors.

"Hey!" a sharp hiss came from beside them.

Wolfhowl turned and saw a WindClan patrol and he groaned.

"You are coming to see Whitestar," the leader snarled.

"But we're only..." Duckflight started to protest.

"Zip it!" one WindClan warrior snapped.

"Hey!" Wolfhowl and Snakeeyes snarled.

They arrived at the WindClan camp after arguing with the warriors where Whitestar came to them.

"What are you doing on our territory?" he hissed.

"Shouldn't you have done that at the border?" Snakeeyes rolled his eyes.

Whitestar hissed.

"We were passing through on our way to RiverClan territory," Wolfhowl replied evenly.

"And what were you going to do there? Join the Clan?" Whitestar snickered.

"Actually, yes, we were," Wolfhowl smiled poisonously.

He started laughing and Duckflight and Snakeeyes joined in.

"We were exiled," Snakeeyes hooted with laughter.

Whitestar convulsed in anger, "Enough! Take them from my sight!"

Wolfhowl laughed all the way to the RiverClan border with Snakeeyes and Duckflight behind him.

Don't swallow your pride.

Stick it out.

Don't swallow your anger.

Spit it out.

Chapter 10: Duckflight

Mintbreeze purred soothingly to Duckflight, laying on her side in the RiverClan nursery.

Duckflight felt like her flank was on fire and that there was lightning swelling in her stomach.

"Is she ok?" Wolfhowl asked frantically.

Mintbreeze nodded, "She'll be fine. Just don't worry."

Duckflight flashed Wolfhowl a look full of love and pain, "I'm in good paws." She looked up at her best friend.

"Are her kits coming?" Snakeeyes asked, coming into the nursery with a squirrel.

Wolfhowl nodded. Duckflight screeched and she bit down ferociously on her stick. It splintered and cracked under the pressure of her pain.

Wolfhowl paced worriedly, not taking his eyes of her.

"Here comes the first one!"

A small white kit with a black face laid wet and limp on the moss.

"Lick the kit!" Mintbreeze ordered.

Wolfhowl licked the kit ferociously as the second kit came: a small tortoise-shell.

Snakeeyes picked up that kit and started to warm it.

Duckflight squirmed as a contraction wracked her body and another kit came. This one was light brown.

Duckflight felt Mintbreeze's paws on her stomach, "That's it."

Relieved, Duckflight spat out the stick and flopped back into her moss.

Mintbreeze started licking the last kit. She nestled all three kits at her belly and they began to suckle. Wolfhowl nuzzled her and Snakeeyes looked proudly at his kin.

Duckflight stared warmly at her kits. They were hers and Wolfhowl's. At last, everything was right, and she had perfect names for them.

She named the light brown tom Snakekit, for the brother who loved her so much and would always be with her until the end.

She named the toroise-shell she-kit Turtlekit, for a strange animal, as was her name.

And last, she named the white tom with the black face Shadekit, for her mate, Wolfhowl's, grandfather and her mentor that had taught her so much, even with his last breath.

Those kits had a special destiny. Duckflight could feel it.

You know we're havin' good days,

And we hope they're gonna last.

Our future still looks brighter than our past.


The End.

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