"Are you ready for this, Bella?" Strike asked, his voice tender; filled with concern for both his future and that of his only true love.
"No," Bella confessed, sighing. Strike looked at her, concerned and surprised as Bella sucked in her breath. "I'll never be more ready than this, however. So we may as well."
Strike nodded, looking up and into the forest which lay ahead of him. They were about to step into a new world, into a new type of living, into a new life.
And they were not the slightest bit prepared.
"Before...before we go," Bella swallowed, and Strike could hear the sound of her heart beating through her thick glossy pelt.
"I...Strike, there's something you absolutely have to know and we're...we're having kits but I don't know if we're ready and I don't know if it's relevant but I thought you should know because it's a kit and were having kits and this is huge news but I'm not sure if it's good huge news or bad huge news, it's just huge news... for me at least and-"
"Bella," Strike cut her off, soothingly, gently stroking her fur with his tail. As much as he would have liked to pretend it had, the news didn't come as a surprise to him at all. One could easily guess that she was expecting just by looking at Bella and she could have only been fooling herself to think Strike wouldn't have noticed.
"Is it?" Bella looked concerned, rambling; something that was very unlike Bella, "Is it good news or bad news, Strike?"
"It's wonderful news, Bella. It's wonderful news."
They were quiet for a short while, both of them staring ahead anxiously, not sure what to expect; not sure what to do.
"This doesn't change our decision... does it?"
"No," Strike replied. He had decided that a kit was even more reason for them to move into AutumnClan together; where they could raise their kits and get the support they needed while doing so.
"Then... are we going?" Bella looked up at him hesitantly, her eyes were brimming with tears; or so it appeared to Strike under the fierce lighting of the sun.
"Yes," Strike nodded, "We're going."
And then the two stepped together into their new life which would bring nothing they could have ever prepared themselves for.
Nothing they could have ever prepared their kits, who were squirming with excitement inside Bella's plump stomach, for.
Lightkit stared at the ground absently-mindedly, drawing random lines and circles into the mud. He tried to ignore the cold wind running through his fur, but was unsuccessful in his attempts.
He had to hide a snort of contempt; while he was out here shivering in the barely-put-together den, a good ways outside AutumnClan, the "pure" cats were nice and snuggled together in a well built shelter, hardly aware of the cold that was unable to reach them.
"Are you excited to become an apprentice?" A soothing voice Lightkit recognized quite well questioned. He looked up and into the eyes of Redclaw.
Redclaw was a respected elder... among the "unpure" of AutumnClan, at least. Most of the "pure's" located in main camp, wouldn't even recognize Redclaw, who had gone through so much just to be able to stand by AutumnClan in battle.
Just to be treated like a worthless scrap of fun, just to be kicked out of camp to live farther off, just to be treated as though he had some contagious disease. Just to be shown that because he wasn't Clanborn he would never be of any sentimental value.
"I don't know," Lightkit squeaked, "I'm quite excited to go to main camp!"
He had only been there twice before; once when his dad had brought him along for a quick tour and once when he had caught a piece of prey by what the others called "beginner's luck" but Lightkit preferred to refer to as "expertise." Although it was his catch he was forced to take prey to the main; because main got fed first and the "unpure" cats got fed second.
Usually, there wasn't a second.
The one aspect of main that Lightkit could remember the most, however, was the looks. No one in main dared come near him, they all watched him with either disgust, fear or curiosity. It was as though he carried a disease which could infest the entire Clan if he simply sneezed.
Fortunately, he hadn't had to sneeze.
"Aren't you excited to find out who your mentor will be?" Redclaw questioned. Lightkit glanced about the small side camp he resided in. They were less than half the size of main and there were perhaps fifteen warriors total; more than half of which already had an apprentice.
"Well there isn't much of a selection for Autumnstar, it seems."
Redscar raised the corner of one eye curiously, "Who knows, maybe you'll get assigned a mentor from main? Wouldn't it be exciting to get trained by one of the pure cats?"
"A pure cat would not be put with an unpure," Lightkit rolled his eyes, knowing it was disrespectful, but unable to help himself, "I might infest them."
"Who knows," Redscar offered him a smile, "There's a first for everything."
And then he turned around and walked off steadily, leaving Lightkit to sigh. Most kits, he figured, would be dreaming about becoming leader or deputy or the most respected senior warrior of the Clan someday.
He could never hope for such a thing. All his life would be was living in the shadows as a cat infested by "unpure"ness. He would have to mate with an "unpure" cat; for no "pure cat would agree to be his mate nor would the Clan be able to stand by such a treason, and then would have "unpure" kits who would lead the same "unpure lives."
Lightkit glanced up, seeing his parents; Strikeheart and Rosescent in the corner of "unpure" camp. They appeared to be talking in low voices, but Lightkit could tell they were excited.
For his apprenticeship.
They're getting excited over nothing, he decided with a sigh, as he tried to bundle into himself; the cold was only becoming worse.
Oh mom, oh dad, why did you guys ever leave your warm, cozy kittypet life? |-|Chapter 2=
"Lightkit, you have reached the age of six moons, and it is time for you to be apprenticed. From this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Lightpaw. Your mentor will be Duskshadow. I hope Duskshadow will pass down all she knows on to you."
Lightkit could only hear murmurs, only hear buzzing, only hear the sound of his own heart beating through his thick, fluffy pelt.
Yes, she had only been a warrior for a few moons, she wasn't respected or well-known but she was one of them. He was being apprenticed to one of them. He swallowed hard.
What should I feel?
Looking down at the cats below him he could see that his parents felt quite happy about the recent turn of events. They were purring quite evidently, waving their tails at him.
Duskshadow, on the other hand, looked horrified. The look on her face was one of disgust, one of betrayal, one of fury. But, having no other choice, she stepped up to the HighRock anyways.
Duskshadow, you are ready to take on an apprentice. You had received excellent training from Leaffall, and you have shown yourself to be patient and strong. You will be the mentor of Lightpaw, and I expect you to pass on all you know to Lightpaw, and overcome any differences that are necessary to do so.
The fact that Duskshadow was more precious, more important than him.
Just because of the cats he was born to. They were the exact same, if one could ignore that simple detail. They had both been born in AutumnClan, they were both Clan cats, they were both loyal and determined to be the best they could for their Clan...
But Lightpaw's parents had been born to kittypets.
And that was all he needed.
"No," Lightpaw whispered, softly, at first, then he raised his voice, "No!"
The entire Clan looked up at him curiously, tipping their heads to the side. There was a curious, possibly relieved, look on Duskshadow's face.
"No," Lightpaw repeated, "I refuse to accept Duskshadow as my mentor."
And then, right in front of the whole entire Clan, he turned around and jumped off the HighRock, before pelting into the cold forest; leaving his apprentice ceremony incomplete.
And his entire life ruined.
"Lightpaw," The apprentice was easily able to detect Redscar's voice as he hid behind a bush in the outer areas of his Clan's territory, "Lightpaw, I know you're here. I can see you hiding behind the bushes; you shouldn't make so much noise if you're going to hide in bushes, you know."
Tentatively, the apprentice stepped out, eyeing his elder nervously.
"Am I in big trouble?"
Redscar smiled, "Not really, not as of the moment at least. There is a huge commotion going on in the Clan right now; the "unpures" have quite a riot going and, believe it or not, they've got a few of the "pure" cats on their side too. You just may have opened their eyes, Lightpaw."
"There is a..." Lightpaw stuttered for a moment, "Revolt? Because of me? I started a revolt on my first day as apprentice?"
"I wouldn't say you started it," The elder purred, "This has been coming for a while. But you lit the match that put the whole place up in flames."
"Is AutumnClan going to start treating us right now?" Lightpaw was jumping through his excitement, "Are we going to be free and treated equally?"
"As much as I'd like to say yes, I don't believe so. Many of the "pure" cats were infuriated, you should have seen them, Lightpaw. I hate to say this but I think many of them would love to have your throat underneath their claws."
Lightpaw swallowed, unable to believe it, "But I just..."
"It's not your fault," the elder assured him comfortingly, wrapping his tail around the apprentice that had become like his own son, "It's not your fault."
Lightpaw cried gently into his aging pelt.
"A revolt," Strikeheart repeated, "Those opposing the seperation of "pure" and "unpure" cats have started a revolt. And its center is our camp. Meaning we have no way out of it."
"I don't think I want a way out of it," Lightpaw decided, "I mean, I started this technically, and I feel as though I can't just create this inner war and then run."
"It's dangerous for you to be a part of this revolt."
"I also think it's dangerous for me to live the rest of my life in this run-down camp, wondering every single night when I fall asleep if the cold will have killed me by the time I wake up the next morning."
There was a tight moment.
"I'm proud of you, son. I want you to know that."
Lightpaw woke up to the sound of battle.
Immediately, he jumped out of his nest, to find that his camp was in chaos. Right outside, he could see claws, teeth, fur and blood.
Instinctively he sniffed the air, trying to detect whether it was WinterClan, SpringClan or rogues. Yet all he could smell was... AutumnClan.
He craned his neck a little further to try and get a better glimpse of what was going on outside and what he saw was Clanmate fighting Clanmate.
And then he took a few more seconds to observe and he saw something else.
It was AutumnClan cat fighting AutumnClan cat, yes. But it was also something more. It was cats from the pure camp fighting cats from the unpure camp.
It was civil war.
Lightpaw suddenly felt himself freeze. He wanted freedom, to be treated properly by his Clanmates and not to be judged for where his parents were born but he couldn't attack them. He couldn't fight them.
Even though it was quite clear the "pure" cats had come to their camp attacking, and that if Lightpaw were to fight back it would only be defense, even though he had the right to defend himself, even though he should be fighting for his cause...
Lightpaw shut his eyes closed and tried to block of all noise from his ears, as he lay back in his nest, praying and praying that the noise would go away. That the fight would go away
That it all would go away.
"That attack was a warning," Redscar claimed.
"What warning?" Lightpaw questioned, as they sat on the outskirts of their border, looking onto the flowery landscape of SpringClan ahead of them.
"Yesterday, after the spark you ignited, the unpure camp came to the decision that we wanted to form a new Clan, using a third of AutumnClan's territory; the territory that they hardly ever set foot in because it has always been used by us. We just wanted to officially become a Clan of our own; not their little puppies."
"Of course they wouldn't like that," Lightpaw sighed agonizingly.
"Now we're at a civil war. We accept ourselves as SummerClan but they refuse to. And until we can somehow prove to them that we are a Clan of our own, we will have to wake up every morning considering the possibility that we will be awaking to battle."
"I couldn't fight them, Redscar," Lightpaw whispered hoarsly, "I felt like a traitor for not helping out but they are my Clanmates, they are..." Lightpaw hesitated before shaking his head back and forth frantically, "I can't fight a Clanmate."
"They aren't your Clanmates anymore, Lightpaw."
"But to them, I am their Clanmate. And that's just as bad."
They both sighed, looking out onto the flowery fields ahead of them, wishing their lives could be so sweet and beautiful. Wishing that AutumnClan had accepted them all, no matter how different each flower was, no matter how unique or odd or personalized.
Just wishing they could be accepted. |-|Chapter 5=
"Welcome to SummerClan, Lightpaw!" Redscar was purring widely when Lightpaw blinked his eyes open, slowly. His expression was groggy first, then confused.
"Autumnstar came to us this morning with a confession; that his parents parents were all kittypets and that in reality he was no purer than some of us"
"So he joined us?"
"No, the Clan loves him so much they couldn't care less if he was born WinterClan. He just said he understood us, that he was against having two camps, but the rest of the Clan hated us so passionately he didn't even get the chance to voice his opinion."
Lightpaw was confused, "What does this have to do with anything?"
Redscar smiled brightly, "Well he finished off by stating that the territory of the "unpure" cats can now become the territory of the SummerClan cats."
Lightpaw blinked, a little excited and first and then confused.
"Why am I not ecstatic?"
"I know how you feel," Redscar sighed, the smile on his face disappearing after a moment, "The whole of SummerClan knows how you feel. But we will get over it eventually. Soon you will realize that SummerClan is the AutumnClan you knew, just under a different name. Just with more rights for you."
Lightpaw blinked back tears, "I-"
"Trust me, Lightpaw."
There was a warm silence between the two of them, before Redscar purred, his smile and excitement back within under a moment, "To SummerClan!"
Lightpaw, hesitant at first, but eventually excited, called after him, his voice ringing loudly through the territory that was now his; the territory in which he would be treated like all other cats and get all the same opportunities; a territory which would become his home.
"To SummerClan!" |-|Epilogue=
"He's come a long way," The couple watched their son fondly as the Clan cheered him on, giving him his warrior name of Lightfall.
"I wish we were down their celebrating it with him," Bella sighed. After they had come to StarClan the two SummerClan cats had changed their names back to those they had maintained during their kittypet years.
"At least we get to watch him from up here," Strike offered, "Something which we would not have been able to do had we not decided to come here."
"That's true." The she-cat sighed.
"I'm glad we could live the rest of our lives in SummerClan. I'll admit; at first I had thought we had made a huge mistake by joining the Clan, but-"
"Good things come to those who wait," Bella finished off for her mate. They smiled at each other fondly, before glancing over the forest in which they had resided in for so many years.
"Four Clans," Bella smiled, "I remember when there wasn't a single one. I remember when we were excitedly murmuring about the fire, sympathizing for the victims of it."
"I remember that too," Strike sighed.
"It's come a long way, haven't they; all these seasons."
"They sure have, my love, they sure have."