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I WON'T LET YOU GO | LONG LIVE | LAST KISS


Longlive

RECAP: Tigerpaw chose ShadowClan over ThunderClan, over her memories and her mother, over her best friend. She has chosen her father, Hawkpaw, and the warrior she wants to become. She has thrown herself into her new life with the same fiery determination she puts into everything she does, deciding failure is not an option.

PRELUDE: Bluepaw, now Bluefang, is still not over Tigerpaw's leaving and trying desperately to pretend that he is. He loves ThunderClan, he does. He has new friends and a possible new mate, the ambitious and bright-eyed Owlstep. But memories of growing up with Tigerpaw haunt him. How do you shake a friendship that was meant to be forever and a love as undeniable as the burning stars?


I said remember this moment in the back of my mind

The time we stood with our shaking hands

"We're going to be up there together at our warrior ceremonies," Tigerkit squeaks, her eyes alight as she speaks of High-Rock. She gives a happy little leap into the air and her short legs go out from underneath her.

I laugh and bat a ball of moss at her. "What's your warrior name gonna be?"

"Tigerstar."

"You can't be promoted from apprentice to leader," I point out, scrunching my nose at her.

She lies on her back and bats my chin with her chubby paw. "Then I'll be promoted from kit to leader."

In a more relaxed manner, I consider a Clan with Tigerkit as leader. It would be nice. She would let the kits play anywhere they wanted and make the crankier elders shut their mouths. I let out a little purr of amusement at the funny thought of Tigerkit putting Harewhisker in his place. "Can I be your deputy?"

"No," she says firmly, and I deflate. Then she says, "You'll be my co-leader."

"That's not possible. A Clan can't have two leaders."

"It's not possible for me to be leader without you. We're best friends, remember?" she says warmly.

I flop down next to her and stick my legs in the air, breathing in the scent of milk and soft grass bedding and Tigerkit's downy fur, the scents that make up my life right now. "Yes, friends forever."

"Besides," she says smugly. "If I'm the leader, I can have a co-leader, 'cause I can do whatever I want."

"When we're warriors, everyone will call our name. Harewhisker, too. Aren't you so excited?"

"I can't wait," she agrees.

The crowds in stands went wild

They are calling my name. My new warrior name.

"Bluefang! Bluefang! Bluefang!"

Harewhisker isn't among them like we thought he would be; he fell ill and died two moons ago. It was not satisfying in the least, and I would listen to his rude comments with gladness if it meant having him back.

"Bluefang! Bluefang! Bluefang!"

Tigerpaw isn't here. I don't know if she's a warrior by now; I haven't seen her in nearly a moon. I hope she is a warrior; if I'm one, then she definitely should be. Then again, I don't know if the stakes are higher in ShadowClan.

I don't know Tigerpaw anymore, and as the cats around me chant the name of "Bluefang", I hardly know myself.

We were the Kings and the Queens

And they read off our names

"Tigerstar!"

"Bluestar!"

I jump up as high as I can. "Tigerstar!"

Tigerkit laughs as she jumps even higher, falling on top of me on the way down. "Bluestar, Bluestar, Bluestar!" she yells through the purr that shakes her little body, squirming on my back.

"Gerroff," I say, pushing her to the side. "You're clumsy."

"Says the one who trips over his own paws constantly," she returns.

"Are you two playing nice?" a queen's voice calls from outside.

"Yes, Wrenswoop," we chorus immediately. If Tigerkit's mother thinks we're misbehaving, she'll come back inside, and we like having the nursery to ourselves. Also, Wrenswoop and Stonebird aren't as cranky if they get some time to sun themselves. So it's a win-win situation.

I prance in a circle around Tigerkit. "When we're leaders, ThunderClan will be mighty."

"We will be mighty," amends Tigerkit confidently. "And then we can eat a lot of prey and tell everyone what to do."

I pause. "Yes, that sounds good to me," I decide. I tap my paw to hers. She purrs and tackles me, and we roll around in a bundle of fur and young beating hearts.

The night you danced like you knew our lives

Would never be the same

"Ready for your vigil?" Quailstar asks me, a well-meaning purr in her tone.

But the answer is no. I'm not ready for sitting alone for hours. That is much too much time for the ghosts of my past to rise up.

Like they are right now.

And the ghosts are forming a picture of a fluffy gray tom waiting by a streambank, and a tabby she-cat approaching him. 

She knew the first time we secretly met. I know she knew. I deluded myself into thinking that she really wanted to keep meeting me as much as I wanted to keep seeing her, but in my heart I'd already lost her. Everything changed the day she learned who she really was. Suddenly, being "Bluepaw's best friend" dissolved into nothingness. 

"Bluefang? Are you all right?"

I jerk out of my thoughts. "Yes, Quailstar. Sorry. I'm so excited to finally be a warrior."

That's not exactly a lie. I am excited. It's just that my stomach also aches with loneliness as I make my way towards the edge of the camp. I prepare myself for what should have been a night spent rejoicing through happy gazes and warm pelt brushes with my best friend, but instead will be a quiet night spent trying not to think about everything that's gone wrong since the innocent heart of my kithood beat to a song of a friendship I used to think would last forever.

You held your head like a hero

On a history book page

"Help, Tigerkit! The foxes are attacking me!" I writhe under the supposedly mammoth weight of a bundle of ferns, snarling and snapping and being as dramatic as possible.

Tigerkit comes racing towards me so fast that her paws skid out from under me. "Rawr!" she yells formidably, leaping right into the middle of the ferns.

Unfortunately, soon both of us are hopelessly tangled. "Will you two never to learn? A fern does not a fox make," Stonebird reprimands as she plucks us both from the mess.

"Ah, let them be. Kits' imaginations always run wild," Wrenswoop purrs affectionately, bending down to lick Tigerkit's forehead.

Scrunching up her face at the coddling, Tigerkit prances away from her mother. "It was a fox," she insists. "And I was a hero."

The queens exchange amused glances. I, however, gaze at my best friend and say admiringly, "Yeah, you were a hero."

It was the end of a decade

But the start of an age

ThunderClan is empty without her. Life is empty without her.

Tigerpaw was never a large cat; she had a smaller build, like Wrenswoop. At first glance, she wouldn't catch your attention. But then you'd get a little closer, and see those large, flaming amber eyes of hers, and the little pink nose, and the warmth of her vivacious spirit.

I miss her. That goes without saying, I suppose, but I am constantly wishing that the age of our friendship never had to end.


Long live the walls we crashed through

How the kingdom lights shined just for me and you

"Up here! Hurry, Bluekit! Before the queens wake up and make us go back to sleep!"

I scramble to climb the side of the boulder, my short legs slipping on the mossy surface. Tigerkit helps me up, nudging me with her nose till I stop wobbling. The both of us sit, pelts brushing, looking out at the most breathtaking view we've ever seen.

"This is what High-Rock is like," Tigerkit breathes in awe. I look at her face and see that she is distant. Her eyes are filled with stars.

"We should stay up here forever," I mew. "And when Quailstar tries to call a Clan ceremony, we'll tell her that we've taken over."

Tigerkit lets out a loud giggle at that. I nudge her. "Shh," I warn her.

"Bluestar, Tigerstar," she chants in a hushed voice.

"I bet we're the first kits to ever set paw up here," I say proudly. (Looking back, this probably isn't true, but the thought made both of us happy.)

"I bet we are," agrees Tigerkit. "It's 'cause we're the bravest."

I shake my head. "I'm not. You're the bravest."

"No, we are," she says firmly.

I wrap my tail around hers, and she relaxes against my shoulder. The moon is full tonight, and it lights up the clearing of our camp. "This is our home," I whisper. Inside, I think, You are home, Tigerkit.

I was screaming long live all the magic we made

And bring on all the pretenders

"Hey, Bluefang!"

I jolt from my reverie and find myself faced with a pair of sparkling yellow eyes. Trying not to look too startled, I flick my tail in greeting at a young she-cat called Owlstep.

She purrs in amusement. "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. And I don't mean to make you break your vigil, either. You don't have to say anything; I just wanted to wish you a good-night. So glad you're a warrior now. I've saved you a nest in the den, right beside mine."

Her meaning is clear. Now that we're both warriors, there is nothing to stop us from becoming closer, and perhaps eventually mates.

Nothing except the ghost of amber eyes reflecting starlight and tabby fur the color of ripe chestnuts.

"Listen, uh, I know you've had it rough. But Tigerpaw... she's gone. She doesn't care about this Clan. Not like I do," Owlstep says softly. "Maybe it's time to forget and move on." She sighs. "Good night, Bluefang."

It's probably just as well that I can't say anything on vigil, because less-than-pleasant words are on the tip of my tongue. I know Owlstep means well. Loyalty is her strong suit. Everyone says she's a top pick for the next deputy; our current deputy, Moonfeather, is gray-whiskered and thinking of retiring. Owlstep is remarkably young to be considered for the position, but she is exceptional. I won't deny it: she is exceptional.

She reminds me a lot of Tigerpaw, actually. So why, between a she-cat who will cause me nothing but trouble and a beautiful one within my own Clan... how come there's no contest?

One day, we will be remembered


I said remember this feeling

I pass the pictures around

Exhilaration rushes through me as I bound after Tigerkit, her laughter ringing in my ears, a much clearer and sweeter sound than the hoarse yowling of a very angry Harewhisker who follows us.

"You two rascals get back here this instant! Is this your idea of a joke?"

Behind us, our medicine cat calmly mews, "Is something wrong? Harewhisker, please stop trying to chase them; you'll injure your hip again."

"Snowspot, surely you don't expect me to just sit and let them fill my nest with nettles and briars to the content of their wicked little hearts?"

Tigerkit and I duck behind a low bush at the corner of the camp, huddled close together as we watch the fiasco unfold. Snowspot seems to be holding back a mrrow of laughter as she regards Harewhisker. "No, of course not. But what exactly do you intend to do?"

"What I intend to do is not fit for civil ears to hear," fumes Harewhisker.

Stonebird pauses on her way to the fresh-kill pile, eyes narrowing. "You'd better not be talking about my kit again."

"I am," Harewhisker snaps fearlessly. "Him and his annoying girlfriend played yet another trick on me. I'm old and I've served my Clan well. I deserve to have some peace every now and then."

"All you do is sleep-" retorts Stonebird, but Snowspot silences her with a warning glance, indicating the gray tom that approaches the quarrel.

The Clan deputy, Moonfeather, halts, his face resigned and rather weary. "What is it now? Those kits again, I presume."

At that instant, Tigerkit, in an effort to see what's going on, leans out a little too far from our hiding place. Harewhisker's ears shoot up. "There they are! The villains! Vagabonds!" He gives chase.

With a shriek of mingled delight and fright, Tigerkit and I start running. 

"Leave my kits alone!" Stonebird yells, taking off after Harewhisker.

"Harewhisker, you'll hurt your leg! I'm running out of herbs to make your poultices!" Snowspot says, joining the chase.

"StarClan, have mercy," mutters Moonfeather as he makes a beeline towards Tigerkit and I.

Of all the years that we stood there

On the side-lines wishing for right now

Well, I reflect, this is it. The night that every cat dreams of since kithood. Nothing but stars and sky; the first test of a warrior's patience and fortitude. The vigil.

I am no longer naive Bluekit, nor am I trusting Bluepaw. Tonight, reborn under the watchfully glittering specks of StarClan dust overhead, I am Bluefang.

I have a nagging feeling that I know exactly why Quailstar gave me that suffix for my warrior name. I think Stonebird had something to do with it. My mother has long thought that I am too gentle and easygoing for ThunderClan. "Be fierce, be a lion, and they will fall before you," she always told me.

Maybe she thought that if I was named for the fang, I'll live by the fang.

We are the Kings and the Queens

You traded your baseball cap for a crown

Crying. I wake up to the sound of Tigerkit's pitiful mewling.

The nursery is dark; the sun hasn't risen yet, though I can hear a few cats--probably Moonfeather and Quailstar--already up and about. I shuffle out from underneath Stonebird's belly fur, struggling to locate Tigerkit in the dark.

Finally, I make out the hunched form of my tiny friend, curled in a corner. "Tigerkit?" I whisper, joining her. I touch my tail to hers. "Tigerkit, what's wrong?"

"H-Harefeather. He hates me so much," she sniffles.

"That old codger?" I say, puzzled. "I thought you didn't care what he thought."

"N-no, I d-don't," she stammers. "But you know his mate, Lilypad? I care what she thinks. She always liked me. She used to call me Little Tiger and she was always so nice. And now she hates me too, 'cause of what I did today."

"What we did," I remind her.

"No, it was my fault. It wasn't you, Bluekit. It's never you." Tigerkit scuffs her paws on the dirt. "I think it's just that you're really good and I'm really bad. I'm just such a bad cat. I'll bet StarClan hates me too."

I shake my head and motion for her to follow me outside. "Look up there," I say, flicking my tail up to the last few stars in the dawn sky. "Those are StarClan warriors. They watch over us no matter what. You're not a bad cat, Tigerkit. We all make mistakes. I bet even Quailstar played pranks when she was little."

Letting out a wavering purr, Tigerkit says, "Can you imagine Quailstar doing that?"

As I look at her, taking in the bit of cheerfulness rising like a sun in her face, I am struck, even as a kit, by the remarkableness of my friend. Tigerkit is strong in ways that some warriors of the Clan can never be. She will go so many places, be crowned with so many honors--and I am perfectly happy about that, as long as she always takes me with her.

When they gave us our trophies

And we held them up for our town

Dawn comes before I know it. Quailstar pads out of her den, stretches, and assigns Owlstep to lead the morning patrol. Wearing an amicable look on her face, she pads over to me. "Good morning, Bluefang. How was the night?"

"It was good," I say, dipping my head in respect. "I can't express how thrilled I am to finally be a warrior."

"You deserve it," she says proudly. "You've always been so obedient and loyal--not to mention you fought brilliantly in that last border skirmish with ShadowClan."

I try to pretend my stomach doesn't dip at the reminder of the day I turned around and found my own best friend to be the one attacking me. I hadn't said anything about it at the time. I'd simply replied "I know" to Tigerpaw when she told me we couldn't be friends any longer.

But inside, I was ripped to shreds. Not by physical scratches, but by the much crueler claws of loss. She had attacked me. I know she regretted it when she realized who I was; I saw it in her eyes. Yet the fact of the matter remains: if I hadn't been me, she would've continued to attack. She would have used her ferocious fighting skills against another ThunderClan cat, against one of my Clanmates.

I can't let her do that. I won't let her do that. If we're ever pitted against each other... Pain and regret flashes through me, but I try desperately to continue on this strain of thought. I will choose ThunderClan. ThunderClan is my home, and as a warrior, I am called upon to give it my all.

And the cynics were outraged

Screaming, "This is absurd!"

Around me, ThunderClan is slowly awakening. Voices and snippets of conversation drift in and out of my ears. I pay little attention to the gossip of the morning, padding sleepily over to the fresh-kill pile in search of something to quiet my growling stomach.

Lilypad is sitting beside the food with a young, talkative young warrior called Seedflower. I'm not particularly nosy, but due to the proximity, I can't help but overhear what Seedflower is saying.

"... and I know a lot of cats used to like her, but the fact of the matter is, she didn't deserve half the credit she got. Good figher? Please. She was mediocre at best. I'll bet she would've betrayed the Clan even if she hadn't figured out she was half-Clan. I find it funny how much Quailstar hates her now, 'cause she used to be Quailstar's favorite. It was so stupid. She wasn't even a kind she-cat. I'm not sure if we should thank ShadowClan for taking her from us or apologize that we left them stuck with her."

Cause for a moment a band of thieves

In ripped up jeans got to rule the world

"You're jealous," I blurt before I can think the better of it.

Lilypad and Seedflower both turn to look at me. Lilypad's gray-flecked face folds into consternation, and she gives me the slightest shake of her head. I ignore her. 

"You're jealous, Seedflower. You always were. For your information, Tigerpaw gained every bit of praise she ever got. You can't help who you're born to or where you're born. You can only change who you become and what you do with your circumstances. Tigerpaw wasn't necessarily the popular she-cat you're speaking of her as; you know she always felt a little bit like an outcast, especially since you and that weasel Ratpaw always went out of your way to make sure she was excluded. Nevertheless, she managed to be ten times the warrior you'll ever be-"

"Bluefang," Lilypad hisses. Her milky blue eyes are glittering with anger. The elder is normally so placid that it's unnerving to see her like this. "You're a new warrior, and you're already disgracing yourself. Please go take a walk in the woods, and try to calm yourself."

"But-" I begin to protest, but Lilypad silences me with a simple glare. Seedflower gives me a smug glance and gives her paw a lick. 

Simmering in anger and muttering swears under my breath, I bolt out of the camp. Owlstep is returning with the morning patrol, and she calls out to me as I dash past her. I don't respond. 


Long live the walls we crashed through

How the kingdom lights shined just for me and you

My walk in the woods leaves me standing at the ThunderClan-ShadowClan border. I peer across into ShadowClan territory, my eyes straining to make anything out through the dense shrubbery.

There's so much anger behind my gaze, I'm surprised the bushes don't ignite under the flames of my eyes. "I hate you," I tell the border. "Why did you have to take her?"

Stupid, I know.

I'm not thinking straight. Nevertheless, I don't hesitate as I step over the border and find myself in ShadowClan territory.

"See, Tigerpaw?" I mutter angrily to myself. "I can be a ShadowClan cat too." 

With no idea what I'm doing or what I hope to accomplish, I begin trekking through enemy territory.

I was screaming long live all the magic we made

And bring on all the pretenders

I'm not afraid

It isn't long before I'm completely lost. And worse, I think I'm being followed. There are crackles in the undergrowth behind me. The hair along my back raises in fear; despite that, I try to put on a false pretense of bravado.

I whirl around. "Show yourselves!" I call.

Seconds later, two cats emerge. They're obviously ShadowClan, and they look mean. "What have we here?" one of them mews. "A stupid ThunderClan apprentice?"

"That's warrior to you," I hiss.

"No, that's intruder to me," the tom responds. "Shall we teach this rascal a lesson, Thistlewhisker?"

The other she-cat, Thistlewhisker, nods. Her claws are extended, her eyes glittering with hostility. "Maybe we should escort him back to ThunderClan, Hawkpelt."

"No. Look at him, all angry and fierce." Hawkpelt smirks. "He wants a fight, and we're going to give it to him." 

There's something in his gaze that unnerves me; it goes beyond Clan rivalry. "I know who you are," he tells me. "You're Tigerlily's old best friend. Just what do you think you're doing here anyway?"

Tigerlily. Hearing him say her warrior name, one that I didn't even know she had, is like a blow to the chest. Suddenly, I understand his rage. The way he seems to have a personal vendetta against me. He has some type of feelings for Tigerpaw--I mean, Tigerlily. 

Ordinarily, I might've backed down. I might have realized that I was outnumbered and disadvantaged. But just thinking of Tigerlily with this pretentious cat makes my vision go red. "I'm not afraid of you," I spit at Hawkpelt.

He doesn't seem concerned. "No? Well, you should be."

And he attacks.

Long live all the mountains we moved

I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you

It's like for the first time in countless days, I come alive again. Adrenaline surges through me, pushing out the apathy that has slowly been consuming me from the inside out. I rear on my hindlegs to meet Hawkpelt's onslaught, and the two of us fall into the weeds. 

Thistlewhisker tries to help her Clanmate, but she can hardly get a blow in edgewise. Ever since Tigerlily left ThunderClan, I've been itching for a fight. I want someone to blame for the indescribable pain of losing my best friend. Now, finally, I have a whipping post, a scapegoat, a cat to take out my anger on.

Is it completely irrational of me? Oh, definitely. If Tigerlily saw me right now, I doubt she'd recognize me. My own mother, Stonebird, probably wouldn't. Gentle Bluefang, recklessly rampaging about ShadowClan territory? Perish the thought. 

I was screaming long live that look on your face

And bring on all the pretenders

Even though I'm fueled by my rage, Hawkpelt is no pushover. The ShadowClan cat is larger and more muscular than me, and clearly more experienced with fighting. He ducks my more powerful blows; then, when I'm off-balance and trying to recover, he barrels into me or tears at my exposed flanks. 

After a bit, I begin to flag. The fire inside me is dying, leaving me hollow and listless. Red ribbons of blood lace my shoulder. Hawkpelt shoves me with all of his might, and I fall, slamming against a rock. Nuclear pain fissions throughout my body till my vision is reduced to a blurry red haze of agony.

"Give up," snarls Thistlewhisker. Dimly, I hear some trace of regret in her voice, like she pities me. Sparks of my battered spirit stir feebly within me. I refuse to be pitied. "Just give up."

"Listen to my sister, ThunderClan scum," spits Hawkpelt contemptuously. Even with a thin trickle of blood running down his face, he looks relatively unaffected by the fight. His eyes glitter with hatred. His muscles ripple under his sleek coat, the color of shadowy brush--brown tabby, but darker than Tigerlily's coat.

Tigerlily. My heart trips over itself, misses a beat and goes crashing down the stairs.

I can see why a she-cat would be drawn to a cat like Hawkpelt. Is this what she wanted in a tom? Strong, strident, ShadowClan? 

Slowly, stiffly, I pull myself to my paws. "Bring it on," I hiss, softly but determinedly.

Scoffing, Hawkpelt says, "You've come looking to die, haven't you?"

One day, we will be remembered

"Hurry, Bluekit!" giggles Tigerkit, scampering through the undergrowth. "If Moonfeather or Stonebird finds us, we're dead!"

"Where are we going?" I pant, trying to keep up.

She looks over her shoulder. "You think I know my way around the territory? I have no clue where we're going. Don't be silly."

"W-well, I just assumed--what do you mean by that? Are we lost?" I demand.

A purr builds in her throat. She scampers over a log, heading back towards me. As I watch her approach, I take her in. The rainclouds that brought the morning's storm have made way for the sun, which sheds its soft light and turns Tigerkit's fur the color of sienna. Her eyes are sparkling like twin chips of agate. Lately, her kit-fluff has been making way for thicker, glossier fur. Her short legs have been lengthening. Of course, her spirit is as lively and inquisitive as ever. Still, I can't help realizing that we're growing up: we'll be apprentices soon. I wonder if Tigerkit's ambition and talent will lead her away from me. Will she abandon me once she realizes that I don't belong on the level of greatness she is clearly marked for?

I push away the thought, telling myself not to be absurd. There is nowhere Tigerkit can go that I wouldn't follow. Just like there is nowhere I can go that she wouldn't follow.

The two of us continue our walk through the woods. The storm has brought new life to the trees. The grass pushes up through the wet soil, verdant and bright. Shining droplets slide off the petals of pale blush-colored blossoms. I take a deep breath, letting the peace of the atmosphere flow through me. Any moment now, a screaming Stonebird will emerge from the bushes and drag both of us home by our tails, but for now it's nice to be out by ourselves.

We stop before a large puddle left from the rain, looking down at our shimmering reflections. Even gazing at the water's surface, my eyes are fixated on Tigerkit's image. She twines her tail with mine and dips her paw in the water. I watch ripples fracture our reflections till they're unrecognizable.

"Why'd you do that?" I protest. "You ruined the image of us."

She gives me a faraway look. "What do you mean? Look again, Bluekit. With the ripples cutting through our reflections, you can't tell which one of us is which. We're merged."

She's right. I look at the puddle for a long moment. "Deep," I say soberly.

She flicks me on the ear, rolling her eyes in that sarcastic way that she always does. "It's not deep, feather-brain. It's a puddle."

"Ha-ha," I say dryly.

My eyes stray back to the puddle, to our brown and gray pelts standing side-by-side. I can't help but purr. I love the way it looks so natural. I hope we stay like that, a team, forever.


Hold on to spinning around

Confetti falls to the ground

May these memories break our fall

When I come to my senses and pry my eyelids open, it takes several minutes for the world to stop spinning. I'm in a dark enclosure, presumably some sort of cave. There's the silhouette of a cat in the entrance, guarding my route to escape.

A croaking sound escapes my mouth. The cat in the cave opening turns. Eyes like golden jewels pierce me like gilded claws.

My voice completely fades. Speechless, I stare at her. My heartbeat accelerates till I'm sure my heart is about to leap through my throat. I feel like the ground is whirling beneath me, about to pitch me headlong into the abyss of space.

Surprisingly, she's the one to speak first--though I guess this is mostly because I can barely breathe, let alone form coherent sentences. "Bluepaw," she mews softly.

I stiffen. "Actually, it's Bluefang now."

Hurt flashes through her eyes, but it vanishes almost as quickly as it appears. "I'm Tigerlily."

"So I heard," I say icily. I can't help but add, "Your friend Hawkpelt told me."

Clearly sensing the hostility in my tone, she opens her mouth like she's about to defend her Clanmate. Then she shuts it and shakes her head.

"I'm surprised they let you guard me. Don't they think you'll betray them? Oh wait--they have no reason to. You've attacked me before." I can't stop the torrent of hurt and anger washing through me, can't stop the venom in my words. "Why in the name of StarClan would they have any reason to suppose you would be anything but cruel to me?"

I've felt so abandoned and uncared for lately, I half believe what I'm saying. But as I unleash my bitterness on Tigerlily, I realize--too late--that I might be wrong. Upon hearing what I have to say, something fractures in her lovely golden eyes. They split into fractals of pain. She ducks her head to the ground, not meeting my eyes.

"They don't trust me," she murmurs. "I'm standing guard to make sure none of the other ShadowClan cats attack you during the night."

"How long are you guys keeping me here?" I demand. She doesn't respond.

Without warning, memories begin flying through my mind. I see Tigerlily as a young kit, my playmate and best companion. My heart aches. Wordlessly, I curl into a little ball. My own cruel words replay in my head over and over again. I squeeze my eyes shut, hating myself for doing the unforgivable and hurting Tigerlily.


Will you take a moment, promise me this

That you'll stand by me forever

Eventually, I doze off again. When I awake, it's still nighttime. Nothing has changed, except that Tigerlily is no longer at her post at the cave entrance.

Instead, to my intense shock, she's curled up beside me, nearly close enough to touch. The moonlight turns her fur to silver, and for a crazy second my imagination runs wild: the two of us are gray-furred elders, snoozing the nights away together, lulled by the sound of each other's breaths, with the one certainty, one I want more than anything, of having each other forever.

Reality checks in, and I dismiss the silly reverie. It vanishes in a puff of smoke, leaving a gaping hole in my heart in its place.

But if God forbid fate should step in

And force us into a goodbye

As if she senses my gaze, Tigerlily stirs. She blinks when she sees me. "Whoa," she mutters. "Seeing you... it's weird. For a second I thought I was back in ThunderClan."

I nod, turning away. "Would that be such a bad thing?"

She hesitates. "Bluepaw-"

"Bluefang," I correct automatically.

"Sorry. Bluefang..." She trails off. "Is that really your warrior name? It seems so violent for you. You were never-" She breaks off, looking at my shoulder, and shakes her head.

"He attacked me first, for the record."

"Who?"

"Your stupid friend. Hawkpelt."

Swallowing, she asks, "Do you need a poultice for that?"

I shake my head.

"What if it gets infected?"

I crack a rather demented smile. "So what? It's not like your ShadowClan medicine cat will try to heal me anyway. I'll have to deal with the pain. Like I always do."

If you have children some day

When they point to the pictures

Tigerlily draws a shallow breath of air. "I know that the day I told you we couldn't see each other anymore... I sort of dropped it on you really quickly. I never truly explained. I thought it would hurt less that way, for the both of us. I might have been wrong."

"You think?" I hiss.

"Bluefang." Her tone is pleading. "I want to build a life here. I want to be a great ShadowClan warrior and continue proving myself. Someday, far in the future, maybe I'll start a family-"

I stand up, unsteady on my wounded legs. I can't be angry with her for saying that. But that doesn't mean it doesn't feel like she threw a boulder into my chest. "I know," I say curtly. "Owlstep... The entire Clan is wondering why I haven't shown more interest in her already. Someday maybe her and I could be mates too. I know what it's like to look up and realize you have to move on--but you don't have anything or anyone to move on from."

Her eyes drop. When she next speaks, I can hardly hear her. "That's the thing... I think I do."

Please tell them my name

"When I have kits, I'm going to name them all Bluekit," Tigerkit announces.

"After me?" I inquire.

"Nooooo," she snorts sarcastically. She flicks me on the forehead with her tail. "Obviously, you fluffhead."

I sniff in what I imagine is a dignified manner. "I'll name one of my kits Quailstar, after our leader-"

"You can't name your kit Quailstar. You can only name it Quailkit."

"That's rich, coming from you," I point out. "You're the one who wanted your warrior name to be Tigerstar."

She huffs. "Whatever. What will your other kits be named?"

"Bumblekit, and Boxkit, and Uglykit-"

"Bluekit!" she scolds with a mrrow of amusement.

Nearby, Wrenswoop and Stonebird watch us with amused, knowing looks. "Perhaps it's a good thing they're deciding on kit names now. We wouldn't want them to argue later," says Stonebird.

"No," agrees Wrenswoop. "Young couples can be so quarrelsome during the first stages of being parents."

Tigerkit blinks confusedly. "What are they talking about?"

I shrug. "They're queens. They're always talking nonsense. That's what Harewhisker says."

"Oh, so now we listen to Harewhisker?" my mother questions teasingly.

Tell them how the crowds went wild

Tell them how I hope they shine

I hardly dare to breathe. Maybe it's the injuries I sustained in my fight with Hawkpelt, or just the general dizzying effect Tigerlily's presence has on me. "What do you mean?" I whisper.

Silence. Tigerlily looks shocked that she said anything at all, and she seems to be really regretting it.

I step closer, desperately. "Please. Tell me."


Long live the walls we crashed through

I had the time of my life, with you

"It's amazing," she says weakly. "I love knowing who I am. I love trying to find my path. I've always been up for a challenge, up for proving myself."

She drags her paw through the dirt. "And yet, despite that, seeing you being brought into camp today... it was like my world fell out from under me. All I could think was, what have I done?"

Oh, StarClan, no. "Don't blame yourself," I say immediately. "I'm an idiot-"

"No, I am. I should've figured it out a long time ago. Maybe it would've given you closure. On the other paw, maybe it would've made things a lot harder for both of us. Still, I owed myself the truth. I owed you the truth."

Now I'm really confused. "You don't-"

"You weren't the only one, Bluefang. Our friendship meant just as much to me as it did to you, just in a different way. And I know that's hard to believe, after all I've done. But I..." She finally looks up, meeting my eyes. "I fell in love with you too."

Long, long live the walls we crashed through

How the kingdom lights shined just for me and you

A thousand emotions spin through me. Confusion. Shock. Disbelief.

Joy, of course, but it's muted by my incredulity. That might seem silly, but you have to understand what a ridiculous notion it was that this beautiful she-cat, with her scintillating golden eyes and independent spirit and sharp tongue... how ridiculous it sounded to hear her say she loved me.

"Tigerlily," I breathe. That's all. Just her name.

Then everything goes wrong.

And I was screaming long live all the magic we made

And bring on all the pretenders

"We're apprentices!"

"Apprentices!" I echo, leaping into the air.

Tigerpaw laughs and hops onto a rock, flicking her tail back and forth crazily. "WE'RE APPRENTICES! WE'RE APPRENTICES, APPRENTICES, APPRENT-"

"SHUT UP!" Harewhisker roars. A clump of moss smacks the ground between our paws. 

The both of us collapse into laughter. "Apprentices," chants Tigerpaw softly.

"Warriors," I return.

"Deputies?"

"Leaders."

"Best friends," Tigerpaw adds with a contented sigh. Of course it comes back to that; it always does. Our friendship is the foundation of our lives.

The sound of purring from nearby makes me roll onto my side. I nudge Tigerpaw with the tip of my tail. "Check it out. Cloudfly and Moonfeather seem to be getting cozy." The two cats are sitting beside each other, sharing tongues. For once, Moonfeather's face is relaxed instead of tense and stressed. He's shaking with amusement at something Cloudfly has just said. For her part, the pretty white she-cat seems totally unaffected by Moonfeather's position as deputy or any reservations other cats might have because of his position. 

Wrinkling her nose, Tigerpaw says, "Gross. He's the deputy. What's he doing, acting like a moonstruck apprentice?"

"Are you saying love is for apprentices?" I tease.

"No," she says hotly, but an odd flash of... something skips through her large eyes.

I feel an unusual pang of annoyance. "Oh, so you are interested in someone? You can tell me, you know. I won't tease you... much," I add under my breath.

"You know, Bluepaw, you're not actually funny. I don't think you've ever realized that," retorts Tigerpaw.

I scowl. "Fine. Don't tell me."

"Fine. I won't."

We sit in silence for a bit. Finally, Tigerpaw mutters, "When... I mean if I fall in love, I'll tell you once I figure it out for myself. I feel like it'll take a long time for me to realize it. What about you?"

My throat closes. I'd be lying if I said that I would tell her the instant I fell in love. Because, well, it's a little late for that.

I'm not afraid


Singing, long live all the mountains we moved

I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you

A new cat leaps into the den, interrupting our conversation, and pounces on Tigerlily, knocking her to the floor. Tigerlily's always been an amazing fighter, but she's taken by surprise and disappears under the cat's shadow.

The assailant looks up, and the moonlight catches her face. I gasp in shock. "Owlstep?"

"What are you waiting for, Bluefang? Now's your chance to escape! We're here to bust you out," she hisses, grunting in pain as Tigerlily claws her shoulder. "Run!"

Before I can respond, a ShadowClan voice yells, "Intruders!"

I bolt out of the den and am dismayed at what I see. Owlstep's small ThunderClan rescue patrol is swamped by enemies. The ShadowClan cats look furious at waking up and finding us in their camp. 

This is all my fault, I realize. I have to save my Clanmates.

"Bluefang, wait-" Tigerlily begins, coming to stand beside me.

I allow myself the briefest moment of happiness, touching my nose to hers. A jolt of electricity flows from my whiskers to the tip of my tail. "I'll always love you," I whisper.

Then I leap into the fight. 

And long, long live the look on your face

And bring on all the pretenders

I catch one last glimpse of the look on her face, her eyes wide and worried and unsure, the moonlight turning her striped pelt into silvery bands of constellations. Then she's lost as my vision is obscurred by clawing, hissing ShadowClan cats.

I lose track of myself and my surroundings. All I know is blood and fear and adrenaline. Several times I see chances for me to make an escape for myself, but I don't take them. If I see a ThunderClan cat, I scream at them to get out and make sure no ShadowClan cats go after them. My Clanmates came here to break me out. No way am I letting them get hurt because of my stupidity.

Eventually, I'm forced to stop fighting, because I can no longer walk. Slowly, I sink to the floor. My vision is foggy, my breathing shallow and raspy, my body aching from a dozen wounds.

How ironic it is, going down like this. Tonight, I actually lived up to my name: Bluefang.

I can hear Tigerlily screaming my name. She's trying to get to me, but a ShadowClan cat holds her back. I long to go to her, but I have no strength. Owlstep is at my shoulder, leading me away, and I have no choice but to let her support me. 

"Bluefang? Can you hear me? You're going to be okay." Owlstep doesn't sound like she believes it herself. "You're going to live."

"I've lived," I say simply. As if hearing Tigerlily say she loved me has completed my life or come close to it. My legs fail again, and this time I can't get back up.

Owlstep's wail is piercing, but I hardly register it. All I can think of is Tigerlily, and her face is the last thing I see before the entire world goes black.

One day, we will be remembered


<p style="text-align:center;">The next & last songfic in this saga is here.</p>

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