Beware: some hold a secret more deadly than imagined.


Hollyfern’s Secret

Note

This is not based of Hollyleaf’s Story; it is just based off of a story that I thought of in math class one day. I hope you like it, and I will try to update it about every few days to a week!

Chapter One

“Take me back

To that fire in your eyes

Cause I know I ain’t gone too far

Take me back to you and your wild heart, yeah.”

—Daughtry, Wild Heart


“Eaglesplash! Eaglesplash, come back!”

With a startled cry, Hollyfern jerked awake. She was breathing rapidly, and her insides were burning despite the snow falling peacefully outside.

Hollyfern was alone in the den, which was a relief—for once. Her dark fur was matted, and her paw was still bloody and sore.

So Pebblefrost didn’t come back after all. Silently cursing the medicine cat, she struggled to stand, balancing on her three good paws. Her head throbbed, not only with pain, but with all the information she had gained over the past moon. So much about her history and past. Yet there was so much more to learn.

The small clearing was empty; even Berryleaf’s snores, which were usually loud enough to scare all the prey away, were muted. Hollyfern’s whiskers twitched in amusement as she padded across the frozen grass.

Hollyfern successfully made it into the forest without getting noticed; once she was beneath the tall, sweeping pine trees, she relaxed. The cold air bit at her, but she ignored it, fluffing up her fur to keep herself warm. The snow was falling more thickly, and it chilled her pelt and made it harder to see. All the prey-scents has vanished under the ominous cover of white. Hollyfern stopped short when she picked up the scent of another cat even over the wet, cold scent of the snow. She looked more closely, making out the form of a thickset cat. His fur was a dark ginger, and his eyes were a sharp, piercing green. Her eyes widened when she saw a tiny kit trailing behind him, her grey fur wet and matted.

“Who are you?” the tom hissed, unsheathing his claws. Hollyfern was silent for a moment, unsure how to reply.

“I’m, um, Holly,” she growled eventually, not adding the second half of her name, the half that would reveal her identity. This tom, she guessed, would not be happy to see a Clan cat.

“Are you a rogue? Do you live nearby?” The tom lowered his head, licking the kit’s head softly. Hollyfern had never seen a tom act so motherly.

“Yes and yes.” She lifted her chin proudly. “I can show you around, it you’d like.”

The tom nodded. “That would be nice.”

Hollyfern flattened her ears. “But first, tell me you’re name.”

“I’m Reed,” he replied, meeting her gaze evenly. “And this is Violetsnow. Her mother was Clanborn, so I decided to give this little kit a Clan name as well.” His eyes sparked with joy and warmth as he continued. “You know, I have a soft spot for Clan cats. Most rogues despise them, but I’m different. Good things”—he nudged the kit—“can come from the Clans.”

Hollyfern nodded absentmindedly. Why had she lied to him?

He glanced at her expectantly. “Have you ever met a Clan cat?”

“Um, well, I actually was one.” She gulped nervously, dreading his reaction. “But I left because I wanted to become a rogue.”

He snorted, his expression amused. “Well I’ll be. Anyway, that shelter you were talking about?”

“Oh, yeah!” She led them to the edge of the forest, where the snow wasn’t very thick. There was a large, round gap in the ground. It was fairly dry, other than the few icicles hanging from the entrance.

“Thank you,” Reed meowed gratefully. “This will serve us well until newleaf.”

Hollyfern nodded, her gaze flirting around nervously. Would Reed and Violetsnow be safe here? She knew that there was a Twoleg nest with kittypets nearby. . .

“It’s just for tonight,” she told herself quietly. As she padded away, she threw one more glance back at them. They looked content, and Violetsnow was already fast asleep.

“Still, I can’t leave them,” she whispered, torn between two decisions. But would her Clan really want her back? All she had been in the last few days was trouble, according to Silverswirl.

“They won’t miss me.”

She decided to believe it, looping back around and settling in the ferns near their shelter. Her head ached, and her paw throbbed, oozing blood and pus. She leaned down to lick it clean but then drew back, disgusted. Instead, she tucked it underneath her chest and rested her head on the ground, her golden eyes fixed on Reed and Violetsnow’s shelter.

I miss you, Eaglesplash, she thought forlornly, gazing up at the cold, faraway stars that peeked through the clouds. Towards the east, she could see a pale light, an indication that the sun would rise soon.

Luckily, the snow had stopped falling, and the wind had blown most of the clouds away. She could almost feel Eaglesplash’s soft, warm gaze staring down at her as she rested.

She caught herself multiple times, almost dozing off. Intently she watched the shelter, her ears pricked and her eyes wide. As dawn approached, she grew more and more anxious. The kittypets would be out soon.

Suddenly, she heard a soft mew from nearby. Her head snapped up, and she narrowed her eyes. A small, long-legged tabby she-cat was picking her way through the snow, looking disgusted.

Bunching her muscles, Hollyfern bounded forward, barreling into the she-cat. The she-cat’s meow of surprise soon morphed into a furious yowl. With a hiss, Hollyfern slammed she she-cat to the ground. Snow flew up in Hollyfern’s face, and she spat it out abruptly, focusing on the she-cat.

The she-cat clawed at Hollyfern’s belly, and with a jerking motion, Hollyfern stumbled backwards, blood pouring from the wound. While Hollyfern was distracted, the she-cat lunged at her injured paw and bit down hard. Hollyfern yowled in pain, slashing her claws across the she-cat’s face. The she-cat mewed indignation, wincing as blood dripped from the shallow scratches. Hollyfern was about to spring again when a flash of dark ginger fur blocked her view. Reed wrestled the she-cat to the ground, pressing his claws against her throat threateningly. With a fearful shriek, the she-cat wriggled our of his grasp and leaped away. Hollyfern gasped, limping over to Reed.

“Thank you,” she rasped.

“No problem,” Reed replied dismissively. “I’ve dealt with countless kittypets before. They’re mouse-brains.”

“Still, you saved me.”

“Those wounds look harmful,” he observed, jerking his muzzle to her paw and belly. “I’ll try to remember everything I can about herbs. Snowfeather—Violetsnow’s mother—was the medicine cat of her Clan, and she taught me some basic facts.”

No wonder Reed had to adopt Violetsnow. Hollyfern couldn’t stop a small gasp from escaping her lips, but she dipped her head towards Reed.

“Thank you.” She limped towards the shelter, where Violetsnow was sitting. She looked warmer, though her eyes were tired.

“You can rest,” she told the kit. “Sorry about the commotion.”

“It’s okay!” Violetsnow squealed. “I’ve had lots of rest!” She raced around the shelter, her eyes bright and her tail streaming out behind her. Hollyfern snorted in amusement, nosing her happily.

“Well then, I guess you’re fine!” she purred. Violetsnow nodded rapidly.

Hollyfern inspected the kit, her tail-tip twitching thoughtfully.

If she were in a Clan, she’d be receiving her apprentice name soon. And her mentor, but I guess Reed’s enough like a mentor to her. She paused. Reed almost acts like her father, and it’s heartwarming.

Reed’s meow broke her out of her thoughts.

“I collected some marigold and poppy seeds,” he reported. “I had them stashed in a small hollow. Now, all I need are cobwebs.”

Violetsnow jumped to her paws. “I’ll go and fetch some!” she cried.

Reed nodded briskly. “Okay, but be as quick as you can, and watch out for kittypets.”

Violetsnow nodded and trotted off. Reed faced Hollyfern, affection clear in his deep green eyes.

“Um, thanks,” Hollyfern meowed awkwardly, nodding to the herbs. Reed nodded, grabbing the marigold in his mouth and chewing it up into a pulp. Hollyfern limped towards him, and he smothered the substance over her paw and belly. It stung, but she ignored the stinging and focused on staying calm instead. After he was finished applying the poultice, he gave her a rapid lick on the cheek and pulled away, his head lowered.

“Sorry,” he whispered barely loud enough for her to hear.

“It’s fine,” she purred, pressing her tail against his flank.

She glanced up as Violetsnow appeared. The young she-cat was pelting towards them, her eyes wide, one of her paws swabbed with cobwebs. She dropped them by Reed’s paws, panting.

“What’s wrong?” Reed cried.

“There are Clan cats nearby!” she gasped. “They said they’re looking for a Hollyfern. They want her now or else!”

“Or else what?” Reed’s eyes flashed anxiously.

Violetsnow hissed. “Or else they’ll kill us!”

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