Red

The Last Time | The Lucky One | All Too Well | Red | State of Grace | Everything Has Changed | Starlight | I Almost Do | Twenty-Two | Treacherous | I Knew You Were Trouble | We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together | Stay Stay Stay | Holy Ground | Sad Beautiful Tragic | Begin Again

Part of the Songfic Series

OA is Taylor Swift

Written by Red

Red

Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street

Faster than the wind, passionate as sin ending so suddenly

A faint breeze rustled through the clearing in the tightly-packed grove, the fruit-bearing trees brushing against each other while the zephyr when whistling through their branches. A few round red fruits tumbled to the ground around the trunks of the trees, accompanied by delicate white blossoms, crushed under an oncoming pair of golden-brown paws. Stormfall gave a small smile, his tail brushing my shoulder, before taking a seat next to me and gazing at the meandering river, gaze thoughtful, but with a hard glint as though he already knew what he was going to say; he was just mustering up the courage to do so.

Nestled between the protective boughs of the trees, I scuffed at the dust, recalling a night a few moons previously when the two of us had traced a path through these very same trees, darting playfully ahead of each other while bathed in the moonlight. 

"Redpoppy," Stormfall began, "we need to talk." I could barely suppress the chill that swept through my bones, and even as he searched for my eyes, I couldn't meet Stormfall's gaze. I knew what was going to follow those words, and whatever Stormfall continued to say, I would regret ever hearing - because by the end of the night, nothing good would have come.

Loving him is like trying to change your mind once you're already flying through the free fall

Like the colors in autumn, so bright just before they lose it all

Stormfall didn't continue immediately, rather, fixed his gaze on the waving fronds across the stream, on ShadowClan land. He looked slightly preoccupied, preoccupation mixed with nerves, suppressing the words he wished would jump out of his throat on their own accord and spare him from saying the words he was dreading speaking. I tilted my head to face him, my eyes probing, but he only looked away, looking at his paws, as though he was ashamed that he couldn't bring himself to say what had to be said.

"Redpoppy," he repeated, finding my eyes at last. Molten gold met leafy green, and I fought the impulse to avert my eyes. "Redpoppy." 

My name rolled off of his tongue like catmint - an herb he wanted to eat, whose scent was so enticing and so tantalizing, and whose taste was even better, but was an herb that, in too large of doses, could damage his system. Stormfall turned back to me, eyes glowing with determination, and when I wouldn't meet his gaze, tucked his tail under my chin and looked me straight in the eyes.

Losing him was blue like I'd never known

Missing him was dark gray all alone

"Redpoppy--we can't..." There it was again, that hesitation, the weariness, the fear of imminent explosion. He was afraid, for himself, and for me. "Redpoppy, we can't be together anymore." His voice held barely any emotion, but the dispassion was what brought my world crashing down around my ears, was what sent the ground tumbling out from under my feet and the trees falling in front of my very eyes. Tears welled in the corners of my eyes, threatening to spill over and send blurriness running down the landscape. 

As he opened his mouth to say my name again, with that same, honey-like tone, I turned on my heel and ran, my legs carrying me away from the orchard as swift-footed as Morningfoot. Tears clouded my eyes, and I couldn't help but lurch to a stop in a hollow of redwoods, my eyes streaming.

I could barely stand - it wasn't something completely unexpected, but I had thought we were...we were the right ones for each other, I thought I loved him. I thought he loved me, but I guess I was wrong. I guess the ones we love, the ones we think we love, are the ones who will do anything for the sakes of themselves - and perhaps that's the real reason we weren't meant to be. Maybe StarClan's decision for me was to mate with someone else, someone less selfish - but surely StarClan would have spared such torment.

Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met

But loving him was red

The next day dawned, leaving the sky blood-stained and gray. The trees, black silhouettes against the bloody clouds, ruffled in the slight breeze, and cool rain drizzled down. Most cats were still sleeping, or else taking shelter in their dens, all uneager to begin the day in such gloomy weather. The fresh-kill pile lay half-forgotten in the center of camp, soggy and a bit muddy, but I snatched a small shrew off and pushed out of camp, cutting past Coldfoot, who looked soaked and disgruntled.

I headed determinedly away from the apple orchard, padding instead towards the small spot nestled between two large trees, where the river dropped into a tiny waterfall, bubbling around the rocks and then continuing to flow. As I approached it, I could already hear the gurgle of the water, and I imagined the cool, crystalline waves crashing against the weather-beaten rocks.

Setting my shrew down in a small, dusty clearing sheltered from the rain by the knotted, overhanging branches of a tree, I took a wary bite and gazed out at the river, rapidly churning, unchanging even in the slightest aberration. How different my life was from that very river, my own course changed by a few simple words.

Loving him was red

Touching him was like realizing all you ever wanted was right there in front of you

I must have fallen asleep around sunhigh; when I opened my eyes again, the grass and trees around me was dry, the raindrops having evaporated, and the sun was sinking towards the pink horizon. A few sparse stars glowed high above my head, far past the treeline. 

A disgruntled mew jerked me out of my trance as I padded into camp, eyes trained on my paws, eyelids already drooping with exhaustion. Though I had done nothing the entire day but stare at the churning waters of the river and nibble half-heartedly at my shrew, my eyes were burning and I felt ready to collapse. My paws were sore from the tough rocks along the bank, and my neck was aching. I had half a mind to visit Coldfoot, but decided against visiting the golden-eyed medicine cat - she would know something's up, and if there was anyone who gossiped even more than the elders, it was Coldfoot.

As I curled up in the warriors' den, tucking my tail around my nose and trying tokeep the tears from seeping out from beneath my closed eyelids, I tried to block all images of the golden-brown tom picking his way through camp from my mind, instead forcing myself to relive the hunting session I'd had with Forestheart, Birchgaze, and Stargaze a few days previously.

Memorizing him was as easy as knowing all the words to your old favorite song

Fighting with him was like trying to solve a crossword and realizing there's no right answer

"Come on, Redpoppy, wake up! Sitting on your bum in your nest all day will accomplish nothing. You've got to get out, stretch your legs a bit! Time for a patrol, all right?" Forestheart's sharp voice woke me from a fitful sleep, and I hauled myself up out of my nest, reluctantly heeding his words. I suppose he was right - laying around moping for the next couple of sunrises was going to do me no good. Besides, it would just guilt Stormfall into sympathy and possible return - and if he'd proved anything, it was that I didn't want to be mates with a cat so cruel.

I joined Rainsplash's patrol, following her out of camp. The day was far too bright for my mood, the sun beaming, sending sunlight slanting through the trees, like a golden spotlight. I cringed, and Rainsplash lay a reassuring tail on my shoulder. 

No matter how hard I tried, his face kept coming back, in broken, split-up pieces that my mind automatically assembled. His face was so...there, so present in my mind. I wanted to fight it, but fighting with him was as unbearable as swallowing deathberries whole - you just couldn't do it, and it went against all your better judgement to try. 

Regretting him was like wishing you never found out that love could be that strong

Losing him was blue like I'd never known

There was a sudden intake of breath, and then splitting, blinding pain in my forehead. Blood trickled down into my eyes, and I blinked it away curiously, tilting my head to see the large, overhaning branch splattered with blood, still quivering slightly from impact. I looked back at the concerned, wincing warriors around me, and asked bemusedly, "That wasn't me, was it?"

Stargaze hurried forwards, wrapping her tail around my shoulders and beginning to guide me back towards camp, while the rest of the patrol - Rainsplash, Maplefur, and Bramblepath - turned to each other, eyes dark, heads bent together as though personally debating my mental health. Stargaze, my own best friend, surely wouldn't leave me under the care of that scandalmonger, Coldfoot, who chattered like a pair of starlings in Greenleaf. She was my own best friend - Stargaze, that is - and she knew how much I disliked being locked up with Coldfoot, and I wasn't crazy, really--

"Shh," Stargaze soothed, "Redpoppy, I know you're going through a tough time with Stormfall. But he was a jerk and an idiot to break up with you, all right? Besides, we're young, there are so many more people in the Clan...don't let it get to you."

Missing him was dark grey all alone

Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met

Fortunately, Stargaze escorted me past the medicine den and to the warriors', where a few of the senior warriors were already curled up, dozing peacefully in the warm afternoon sun. As Stargaze bid me farewell, I padded amongst the small piles of moss and bracken, searching for the one near the rear wall that carried my scent. Finding it, I curled up, an odd, calm serenity drifting over me. Sunlight trickled through the entrance to the den, warming my pelt. I rested there, breathing slowly, eyes half-closed, as the sun sank towards the horizon.

Despite the warmth, however, an odd chill crept through my bones at the sight at the appearance of a regal, lion-like figure at the mouth of the den. Amber eyes flashed in the dim light, and I curled my tail tighter around my body, drawing my extremities in close and doing my best to ignore Stormfall.

"Redpoppy?" A few heads popped up with hissed demands for silence, but Stormfall ignored them and picked his way to the back, closer towards me. There weren't many russet tabbies in the Clan, unfortunately, so I was far too easy to spot. Instead of facing him, I wrapped myself into a tighter ball and pretended to be asleep, eyes squeezed shut and lips compressed into a tight line. 

But loving him was red

Oh, red

"Redpoppy," Stormfall whispered, and he was so close I could feel the heat coming from his body. A soft sigh escaped from his lips as he continued. "Redpoppy, I know you're not asleep. I'm not a mouse-brain, however much you always say--" He broke off then, perhaps realizing that whatever I had done in the present tense was now in the past, seeing as how he was now undoubtedly with another she-cat.

Seeing as how he wasn't with me. 

Stormfall shoved Birchgaze, who had been snoozing in the nest behind me, out of her roost with an indignant squawk. Upon seeing the two of us however, she scurried away, smiling to herself. Eyes wide open now, I could hear Stormfall rustling around until he settled into the best position. 

"I know you're mad at me," he said. "Well, probably a bit more than mad."

Burning red

Remembering him comes in flashbacks and echoes

I couldn't help a snort from escaping my lips at that one. There was no way in StarClan I wasn't a bit more than mad, and Stormfall knew it full well. I could hear him sigh and I hauled myself to my feet, already determined to talk, nothing more. Wordlessly, he turned tail and led the way out of the den, this time taking more care to step around the drowsy warriors. I followed a bit apprehensively, seeing Stargaze's eyes flash nervously as I passed her. 

As the sun disappeared behind the treeline and cats filtered to their dens, the moon, pure and nearly full, rose to assume the place of the sun. Every divet, every crater of the moon, was clearly visible despite the rapidly darkening sky, and I was in awe.

"Redpoppy," Stormfall said, turning around and curling his tail around his paws. Night had flown in on the wings of darkness, and a hush had fallen, everything silent save for the burbling of the stream. "Redpoppy, I can't tell you how sorry I am. I just...we're so young...there's so much more we can do with our lives, and I don't want to weigh you down with kit, or with commitments..."

Tell myself it's time now, gotta let go

But moving on from him is impossible

I nodded numbly, pretending to agree with him. Everything felt cold, from the tips of my ears to the end of my tail, I was frozen. He said he didn't want to weigh me down, that was his promise. He wouldn't weigh me down with his kits. But beneath that charming facade, he was just a liar. He didn't want to save me from any commitments. He wanted to keep himself from having a clingy mate stuck in the nursery. 

And to be quite honest, I hated him for it. 

But I couldn't keep that romantic part of me down, the part that hoped Stormfall really cared for me - for my wellbeing. I knew it was killing me to even want him, to love him, but there was something inside of me that still loved him even though that love was unrequited. I still wanted to hear his purrs and see the laughter in his eyes.

But clearly, that wasn't what he wanted. 

When I still see it all in my head

Burning red

"All right," I said blankly, still frozen but slowly thawing. I nodded my head, stifling a cruel spark of satisfaction at the bewilderment in his eyes. "I'll leave...you alone..." I turned away, my paws crunching the multi-colored leaves strewn about the ground. Behind me, I could sense Stormfall's paralysis. Clearly, he had expected a weeping tantrum, accompanied by me begging for his return. Well, he wouldn't get the satisfaction of fracturing my dignity. If that's how he wanted it - us, apart - that's how he was going to get it. 

The continuing patter of footsteps even after I had stopped was rather unnerving. I turned to see Stormfall trotting behind me at a steady pace. When he noticed my eyes on him, he stopped, looking nearly as pleasant as usual. I had to keep bile from rising in my throat at that smirk. 

"Haven't I made it quite clear?" I growled, digging my claws into the soft soil. "I'll leave you alone - that's what you want, isn't it? - if you leave me alone!" My voice rose to a yowl at the end, and I turned tail and raced away. 

My breath was coming in gasps by the time I slowed down, content that the distance between Stormfall and me was wide enough. 

Loving him was red

Oh, losing him was blue like I'd never known

I found myself once more by the river, its soft gurgle reassuring me, just as it had in moons past. The moonlight cast a soft silver blanket over the entire forest, looking as though a slight dusting of snow had fallen in the moments since darkness had fallen. Above my head, the stars twinkled brightly, overshadowed not in the slightest by the incandescence of the moon.

Drowsiness overtook me, and soon I was snoozing by the edge of the river, lulled to sleep by the gentle noise of the river. Unfortunately - and as usual - I couldn't keep Stormfall out of my head. He wove through my dreams, sometimes as a majestic, golden-furred lion throwing back his head to roar at the sun; or else as a silent sort of panther, lean and thickly muscled, eyes like onyx, his golden pelt muted and wrought through with darkness. He slunk through the verdant undergrowth that was half-bathed in moonlight towards me, his pelt absorbing all of the light. His very essence seemed to leech the goodness from the air and--

I awoke, drenched in cold water. Sun was warming my soaked pelt, and a black pelt blotted out the sun.

Missing him was dark grey all alone

Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met

"He said he didn't want to be together anymore," I said dryly. Seated next to Stargaze, the usually gentle waves of the river now tugged at our paws, the surf crashing up over the banks of the river and wetting our paws. My friend wrapped a sympathetic tail around my shoulders. 

Despite the presence of one of my best friends in the Clan, I still felt more alone than ever. Perhaps it was the realization that I no longer had a companion who was more than a friend - I was completely alone now, I had no romantic endeavors to pursue, no more need for time spent frolicking around the flower patches out at the edge of our territory. I didn't have someone to be myself around. 

Sure, I had my friends - Stargaze, Bramblepath, Wetstream, Sunmark, Birchfall, Forestheart - but I felt different around them. I had to make myself look nice so I could live up to their standards. Whereas when it was just me and Stormfall...I could be whoever I wanted to be. I could be myself. 

'Cause loving him was red

Yeah, yeah, red

Stargaze's words, though encouraging, weren't doing much to alleviate my sour mood. "C'mon, he was sort of a mouse-brain anyway! Who needs toms, I say. Oh, great StarClan, I'm beginning to sound like Sunmark!" The dark she-cat continued to ramble, and I barely noticed when she had stopped. I wouldn't have, if she didn't look over and say in a softer voice, "Are you all right, Redpoppy?"

I shrugged, letting a sigh escape from my lips. It took a moment to formulate a reply - because really, I wasn't quite sure whether or not I was all right. It was just love, petty, petty love, so I should have been...but something was holding me back. 

"I...I loved him," I replied warily. "And I don't know what to do...you know...without him." The words sounded hollow onc they'd escaped, and the reality of it all hit me. I suppose the night before I had still been overcome by the dream-like quality of it all, but now I had grasped it all. 

I was alone.

We're burning red

And that's why he's spinnin' 'round in my head

"Sh," Stargaze soothed, putting a paw on my shoulder. "Sh, Redpoppy, it's all right. He was a pile of fox-dung regardless, you know that, don't you? He was a snake-heart, a lying, venemous cow, and you're better off without him. You don't need a tom to please in your life, you've got us! Me, and Birchfall and Bramblepath! And Sunmark, Wetstream, and Forestheart! We're your friends, Redpoppy! We're always going to be there for you, and we'll stick around longer than some fish-faced tom."

I looked up at my friend, three moons my senior, and sighed. I suppose she was right - she had had her fair share of heartbreak, after she and a rogue had run off together. Stargaze soon realized her loyalty was more to her friends, and to her Clan, and however much this rogue-mate of hers didn't understand, she was returning to her home. 

"I just...I thought he loved me back," I whispered, raking my claws through the damp soil. "He promised he loved me and that we'd always be together."

Comes back to me, burning red

Yeah, yeah

Stargaze waited a few moments to respond. She gazed out at the roaring rapids of the river, the foam-tipped waves lapping hungrily against the shore, crashing and tumbling. "I guess," she began carefully, "your love life is a bit like this here river. Most of the time, it's gentle, easy-going, and lovely. When the river helps other animals, other things, when it buoys them to safety, it's adorable. Just like when you and Stormfall played with the kits and whatnot. But when a storm brews, or something divides you two, it gets vicious. It gets angry, hungry, upset all at once."

I nodded in agreement, following her line of sight to the roiling river. It did look rather angry, I suppose, definitely mirroring my mood.

"You're right," I mewed, "that's one of the only things that's for sure. But we loved each other - our relationship was so pure, so definite! The elders always talked about what adorable kits we'd have - not," I added hastily, "that I want kits now, but...but I thought that we were the perfect couple. I really loved him and I thought...I thought we were going to be together. I thought his promise of kits, and his promise of companionship until we met up again in StarClan, I thought that was all genuine. I thought his promise of love was genuine."

'Cause love was like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street

"Oh, Redpoppy. Haven't you learned that promises are made to be broken?"

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