H O L L Y S T A R ' S
written by Phocoenidae 2012
Hollyleaf stumbled along the trail, left muddy by the recent rain. Her brother, Jayfeather, was at her side each step, somehow finding his way more easily than the ThunderClan warrior, despite his blindness.
The dark she-cat was still stiff from her battle wounds, even after a long night's sleep. Each step was more painful than the last, and the war was fresh in her mind: Ferncloud's last breath, protecting the kits, Firestar's limp body lying in front of the fallen tree, and Brambleclaw falling beneath Hawkfrost's claws.
Her foot slipped, and she crumbled to the soaked ground, shaking. She heard the medicine cat growl at her to get up. But he didn't sound like himself - he was too distraught, and his growl sounded more like a mew.
"It's not far, Hollyleaf," he said gently. Crouching down to stand face-to-face with his sister, he promised, "You can rest soon."
Hollyleaf slowly climbed to her feet. "If I can't walk to the Moonpool, how am I ever going to lead a Clan?"
Jayfeather sighed. "You're not on your own. Your deputy will be at your side to help out with anything, and so will Lionblaze and I."
She nodded. Her weary legs suddenly let out beneath her, but this time Jayfeather stepped forward, allowing her to fall against his flank.
"Thanks," she whispered.
They continued trekking through the mud, Hollyleaf leaning on her brother and wondering if she was really fit for this.
Brambleclaw would've been.
Only a few fox-lengths away, Hollyleaf spotted the glimmer of the stars on the water of a small pond. Jayfeather sped up, and she was forced to keep up.
Next to the Moonpool, Jayfeather moved away and watched as Hollyleaf settled down. He lay down next to her and lapped up the starry water, then closed his eyes.
Hollyleaf stared stupidly at him. He opened his eyes and watched her as if he could really see. Then he nodded for her to do the same as him. So she leaned down, drank from the pond and closed her eyes, falling into the darkness of sleep.
Lights shone through her eyelids. She opened her eyes to find rows of starry, cats looking down at her. Cowering beneath their gazes, she called out for Jayfeather.
"I'm right here, Hollyleaf," came his voice, low and calm.
"Don't be afraid."
Hollyleaf searched for the source of the voice. She followed Jayfeather's blind gaze to a tall, ginger tom. "Welcome, Hollyleaf."
"Firestar," she acknowledged, staring in awe.
He approached with certainty and stopped directly in front of the she-cat. "With this life, I give you judgement and the abilty to tell your friends from your enemies." He touched his nose to Hollyleaf's and pain surged through her veins. Love, hate, fear, and courage soared through her mind as the feeling ebbed away to nothing.
Firestar walked away without another word.
Another tom approached, taller and more slender than the last. His eyes were a brilliant shade of blue, clear and bright. His tabby markings and his tail were what gave him away as Longtail. His gaze was gentle and fierce at once. "With this life I give you confidence," he meowed, touching Hollyleaf's nose with his own. "Use it in everything you do and never let fear get the best of you."
But Hollyleaf hardly understood his words as she was sucked into a life of pride and strength. It ended with the ferocious feeling of love and the will to protect. And it was an oddly familiar feeling to Hollyleaf.
A muscular tabby she-cat walked up to her after Longtail disappeared among the ranks of warriors. Her blue eyes gleamed in the starlight. She was somehow familiar, but Hollyleaf wasn't sure how.
"I'm Feathertail," she said quietly.
Stormfur's sister, Hollyleaf realized. That was why she was familiar - she looked quite a bit like her brother.
"With this life, I give you hope. May you never lose hope, ever."
This new life felt different than the last two. At first it was stressful, but soon became carefree and happy and full of love. And then it ended suddenly, with the feeling of courage.
She flashed the two cats one last, longing look, then left, allowing an old gray she-cat to take her place. The cat's fur was matted and looked dirty, too. Not like a StarClan warrior should look like at all.
She looked exactly the way Jayfeather described Yellowfang. And obviously looks were not important to the old queen.
"With this life," she said, touching her nose to Hollyleaf's, "I give you wisdom. Use it well to guide your Clan through hard times."
Hollyleaf dug her claws into the ground; she was not expecting the terrible feeling that entered her body with the fourth life. She wanted to cry out in pain when the terrible hollow feeling washed over, but when she opened her mouth, she couldn't make a sound. And then the sensation left, leaving behind nothing but numbness.
"Brambleclaw!" Hollyleaf failed to stop herself from shouting out as the sensation left her body. In front of her was the cat she once called her father. And after he died protecting her, it seemed that blood no longer mattered - Crowfeather was never her father, but Brambleclaw was all along.
"With this life I give you trust in your Clan and trust in your ancestors."
This life brought on nothing but what she expected - the hardships of being Tigerstar's son, the sadness of losing Tawnypelt as a Clanmate, and then the twisted feeling of betrayal. Like Longtail and Feathertail's lives, it ended with love and courage. Brambleclaw's life ended so his daughter's could go on.
He turned away and padded off.
Hollyleaf stared at the ground, her breathing was heavy from the strange new experience, and her legs were weak and tired. But she hardly noticed - she was losing her father again.
As if he could sense her sadness, Brambleclaw looked back at her. "You're going to make a great leader, Hollyleaf," he told her.
Replacing him was a gray she-cat, almost blue in the starlight, with shining eyes. Hollyleaf recognized her instantly from the stories. This was Bluestar, the leader who brought Firestar into ThunderClan.
"With this life I give you faith. I lost faith in my ancestors once, and I hope you never do the same." She touched Hollyleaf's nose, and a new life flooded through. This one was filled with the same hollow feeling as Yellowfang's, then empty feeling of losing faith, but instead of numbness, it ended with pride.
The next cat to approach was hardly recognizable to Hollyleaf. The dusky she-cat was beautiful - small and lean, with lovely green eyes. Her fur was lacking the tinge of gray that it had in the moons Hollyleaf knew her.
"With this life I give you strength. Never back down, Hollyleaf," she mewed, her voice missing it's old rasp.
This life was different from all the others - the life of any warrior. It was full of joy and sadness alike, as well as pride and insecurity. But it ended unlike a lot of elders' - it ended heroically, fighting for her Clan, rather than battling disease or old age.
The cat that appeared next was completely unexpected by Hollyleaf. A pale gray tom stood in front of her, watching her through bright blue eyes.
Hollyleaf felt winded. She couldn't breathe. "I'm sorry, Ashfur," she said. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
"I had far worse intentions," he mewed. "Hollyleaf, with this life I give you the courage to face your mistakes."
Hollyleaf felt the way Ashfur felt throughout his life. She cringed as she felt the pain of losing Squirrelflight to the son of a traitor, the terrible thoughts of a warrior trying to make another cat suffer the loss of her kits.
As soon as it was over, she gulped. "I forgive you. Please forgive me."
"There's nothing to be forgiven. I deserved what came to me," he said, before leaving to join the other starry cats. He sat between Ferncloud and an older speckled she-cat that Hollyleaf didn't recognize.
"Hollyleaf!" cried out a strangely-familiar voice, ripping the ThunderClan she-cat away from her thoughts.
She turned around. "Fallen Leaves," she whispered.
She sensed Jayfeather step back as Fallen Leaves ran up to her, rubbing his ginger head against her's affectionately.
Hollyleaf felt a purr rising in her chest.
He pulled back and spoke slowly, "With this life I give you love. Use it well to protect your Clan for moons to come."
This life was unlike the others. It was short - pride, fear, and then nothing. When it ended, Hollyleaf looked up to find Fallen Leaves gone again.
Firestar's voice sounded loud and clear once again. "I hail you by your new name, Hollystar. Your old life is no more. You have now recieved the nine lives of a leader, and StarClan grants you the guardianship of ThunderClan. Defend it well; care for young and old; honour your ancestors and the traditions of the warrior code; live each life with pride and dignity."
The starry cats' voices rose in a chant. "Hollystar! Hollystar!"
Hollystar looked around at the circling cats. Among them, Brambleclaw and Ashfur cheered the loudest, while Fallen Leaves simply stared and nodded, pride shining in his eyes as if it was him being made leader.
Then the chanting was cut short, once again Hollystar saw the Moonpool in front of her, Jayfeather lying next to her, and the reflections of stars. Jayfeather rose to his feet as did Hollyleaf. Her legs no longer wobbled as she walked and she felt fit to take on an entire Clan.
Before walking away, she took one last glance into the shining waters, hoping that StarClan would see her appreciation. But instead of stars, she barely made out two glowing amber eyes. They quickly faded to nothing.
"Was that -?" Hollystar began.
Jayfeather nodded. "Spottedleaf."