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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

The Lucky One

New to town with a made up name in the angel city

Chasing fortune and fame

The Gathering was teeming with cats, and I padded along behind Stormfall, Springpaw and Smokepaw tagging along at my heels. The crowds parted before us, as though we were famous not for overthrowing the other Clans' corrupt leaders and bringing along an era of full stomachs, but instead for the infamous deeds the aforementioned leaders had committed; theft, breakage of the warrior code...

"Redpoppy," someone yelled. "Stormfall!"

As one of our children moved off, I dodged around the inquisitive warrior and skirted behind Springpaw. She was making her way towards a smoky gray tom. I overheard his cheery words, along with a, "What's your name?" I suddenly felt apprehensive, but--

"Beechpaw," Springpaw replied smoothly. "Yours?"

And the camera flashes, make it look like a dream

You had it figured out since you were in school

"I'm Sootpaw," he replied. I slipped into the tall, waving ferns, anxious to hear the rest of my daughter's conversation, lest a romantic relationship developed with this tom. I didn't like this newfound fame, and I most certainly did not want it to turn from adoring glances into scathing glowers, at the she-cat whose daughter ran off with a tom from another Clan. "What Clan are you from, Beechpaw?"

"ThunderClan," she replied. "You?"

Sootpaw grinned, waving his ember-colored tail. "ShadowClan, of course. Our leader is Fleckstar--but of course, you've been to Gatherings before, haven't you? I think I've seen you around." He looked a bit doubtful, as though he realized that Springpaw wasn't who she seemed to be, but--

"All Clans, please gather around the tree!"

Everybody loves pretty, everybody loves cool

So overnight you look like a sixties’ queen

"Come on," Sootpaw enthused, beckoning Springpaw - Beechpaw - with his tail. The white she-cat followed, her paws kicking up dust as she bounded after him, her tail waving excitedly. 

Retreating from the grass, I felt my rear end bump into something, and I turned. A smile rose to my lips at the sight of Stormfall, looking mockingly indignant. I shouldered him away, still laughing, and together, my mate and I made my way towards the leaders gathered on the branches of the large, sturdy oak tree. Fleckstar, the leader of ShadowClan, was bobbing lightly on her thick branch, her small body barely weighing the tree limb down. Opposite her, on the other side of the tree, was Mousestar, WindClan's leader, and then Leafstar below her, and finally, RiverClan's leader, Lakestar.

Unknowingly, Springpaw's presence, combined with Sootpaw's handsome physique, had already attracted a number of cats, young and old. A small apprentice gazed adoringly at her, while a burly, stony-faced tom's eyes had been softened by the appearance of our daughter.

Another name goes up in lights, like diamonds in the sky

And they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one

Stormfall gave me a slight nudge with his shoulder, and gestured for me to look back up at the leaders. I did so, seeing Leafstar's gaze trained on me, and offered him a sheepish smile. I could see the amusement in his eyes, telling me he wasn't really that disapproving, but I still felt slightly ashamed nonetheless.

Fleckstar stepped forward as the gathered cats quieted down, her lithe white body shivering in the coolness of the night. She gave a slight, nervous smile to her audience, and then spoke, her smooth voice like honey on the air. "ShadowClan is doing well," Fleckstar declared, "we have two new apprentices, Frogpaw and Maplepaw, and I would like to congratulate Badgertail and Marshfur for helping drive off a young fox cub the other sunrise. They did well, and it was headed towards the ThunderClan border," she added apologetically, as though hoping she wouldn't get in trouble with the older leader. Leafstar gave her an encouraging smile as she stepped back.

Off to my left, Springpaw was shivering, her white fur fluffed out to keep her warm. Beside her, Sootpaw looked slightly uncertain, torn between wrapping his tail around my daughter and pressing up against her, and settled for just dipping his head, gazing at his paws in silence.

Yeah, they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one

But can you tell me now, you’re the lucky one, oh, oh, oh...

"ThunderClan doesn't have much to report," Leafstar announced. "Other than the fox that Fleckstar mentioned did make its way into our territory, but it was fought off Clan territories by a few of our warriors and a couple of apprentices. I would like to acknowledge Stormfall, Ashbelly, and Rosefoot, along with their apprentices Oakpaw and Springpaw."

The Clans began to chant the names of the aforementioned warriors and apprentices, their voices reaching a roar at the mention of Stormfall and Springpaw. My mate only studied his paws, while Springpaw gave her chest an embarrassed lick, her eyes glowing with pride.

"However," continued Leafstar, "Rosefoot was killed, and Springpaw suffered grave injuries. She's lucky to be alive, let alone be here tonight." He fixed my daughter with a firm gaze, letting the Clans know it was only her persistence and exuberance that merited her a trip to the Gathering and a reprieve for our medicine cat, Mapleclaw. 

Now it’s big black cars, and Riviera views

And your lover in the foyer doesn't even know you

"Springpaw!" the Clans screamed again, cheering for the survival of their idol, the epitome of a perfect apprentice. Springpaw blushed, but I saw Sootpaw's eyes darkening. He mewed something in her ear amidst the yells, and she stared at her paws, her lips forming something barely audible to Sootpaw, for he bent closer and begged her to repeat it. With a hurt glance mixed with anger, he whisked away.

Springpaw smiled sheepishly as the cheers died down, but it took a longer time for the cats to settle down. The raucous noise had inspired a loud buzz of talk, whether about Springpaw or just aimless chatter, the noise buzzed like flies around the gathered cats.

As I watched, a large dark tabby sidled up to Springpaw with a predatory smile, and I grimaced. It was Hawkfire, the deputy of RiverClan and the tom who'd fathered the most kits, RiverClan and otherwise. Springpaw didn't even know him, but I s'pose it'd be natural that the most attractive tom would want the most attractive she-cat in the forest, regardless of the age difference.

And your secrets end up splashed on the news front page

And they tell you that you’re lucky

The Clan leaders eventually gave up trying to corral their Clan, and simply watched as they swarmed about each other, a churning mass of fur and clashing scents. Springpaw was the eye of one cyclone of cats, all Clans swirling about her and asking her questions, pressing her as though she was more than just a famed young apprentice.

"Springpaw, is it true you're pregnant?" someone shouted, and Springpaw looked aghast, replying in an appalled voice, "Of course not!"

"Are you mates with Ashpaw?" another cat yelled over the din. Springpaw swung her white head around, her long, thick tail sweeping through the piles of leaves behind her. She fixed the questioner with a cold, hard stare, before saying steadily, "I don't even know who Ashpaw is, therefore your statements and ideas are false and your question is invalid."

But you’re so confused

Cause you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used

From our places in the crowd, Stormfall and I could see Leafstar leaping down from his spot on the tree in exasperation and pad over to Springpaw, pushing his way through the crowd to reach her. Whispering in her ear, he let her follow him to the tree, drawing the gazes of all of the cats to the leaders once more. Our daughter leaped onto one of the boughs, signaled for the cats to be quiet, and gestured for Leafstar to take over. There was an audible, disappointed sigh.

Though she smiled initially at Leafstar as he thanked her politely, I could see the grin fading from Springpaw's face as she leaped from the tree, to be replaced by a frown. No one took much notice as she slunk towards us, and I wrapped my tail around her shoulders.

Stormfall and Smokepaw gave Springpaw an encouraging smile, and she gave them a wary one in return, looking thoroughly put out. 

And all the young things line up to take your place

Another name goes up in lights...you wonder if you’ll make it out alive

As Mousestar and Lakestar finish up their announcements looking slightly disappointed in their Clans' self-control, a flock of apprentices swarms around Springpaw, younger than she is, looking fresh out of kithood. I can recognize Cloverpaw and Mintpaw, a pair of RiverClan twins, begging Springpaw for her secrets on how to be a brilliant warrior. She smiled, clearly heartwarmed by the earnest of the two young apprentices.

"I want to be just like you," I heard Cloverpaw enthuse. "The Clans will love me when I grow up, and I'll be gorgeous, a spectacular warrior just like you!"

"I'm not a warrior yet," laughed Springpaw, but I could tell she was a bit pleased. 

"But you will be," an apprentice named Sparkpaw replied, nodding eagerly. Her blue eyes glowed with admiration as she gazed at my daughter, clearly in awe of Springpaw's skills. "You're already a marvelous apprentice! Who knows how good of a warrior you'll be."

And they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one

Yeah, they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one

"You're so lucky," Mintpaw said enviously, shuffling her silver paws. "I'm just a plain old tabby, I'm not blessed with good looks like you are." She scowled into the dirt, as though remembering a particularly vicious comment about her looks. 

Springpaw frowned. "Now who's been telling you that?"

Mintpaw blushed, and a fellow RiverClan apprentice took over for her. "Troutpaw," the new apprentice, Sunpaw, if I wasn't mistaken, replied. "We all know Mintpaw has a crush on him, but he's the most arrogant fish-brain there is! Boasting about catching so much prey and being the fastest swimmer. Cloverpaw can outswim him any day, of course!" Mintpaw blushed again, looking absolutely furious at her friend's complete honesty, and even Cloverpaw looked a bit pleased.

Can you tell me now, you’re the lucky one, oh, oh, oh

It was a few years later, I showed up here

Eventually, as time passed, our little Springpaw grew up. She and her brother Smokepaw received their warrior names, Springstep and Smokeclaw. Smokeclaw went on to be deputy after his father retired from the position, claiming he was unfit to tell rambunctious kits who wouldn't listen what to do. Springstep was happy amongst her Clanmates, not taking a mate but being a warrior - or, at least, so we assumed.

It was the middle of Greenleaf when Springstep disappeared.

She vanished without a trace. No scent trails or pawprints to give away her new location. We wouldn't have noticed if not for her entourage's yowls of despair as they realized her nest was empty and her scent had vanished. Stormfall and I each led a search party in opposite directions, for there was no clue as to which way she left, but we recovered with nothing - and so that night, I decided I wasn't going to leave my daughter abandoned in the wilderness. I was going to find her, no matter how long it took.

And they still tell the legend of how you disappeared

How you took the money and your dignity, and got the heck out

But of course, that was a promise that was meant to be broken.

I returned three seasons after I set out on my search, three entire seasons. New-leaf was just beginning when I staggered into the camp, belly growling and eyes alight with despair. Stormfall was at my side in an instant, his words in my ears, and even Smokeclaw's reserved personality didn't hold him back. I felt tears dripping into my fur, and Stormfall's tail wrapped around my shoulders.

"Bramblepath!" a tiny voice caterwauled, "tell us about Springstep!"

I stiffened, and Stormfall nudged me to the leader's den, but I was affixed on the same spot. "Come on," he whispered, panic mixed in his voice. "We should get you in to see Leafstar, all right? Come on, Redpoppy," he added more insistently. 

They say you bought a bunch of land somewhere

Chose the Rose Garden over Madison Square

"...she was tired of it all. She took her fame, her dignity, and left the Clans," the elder mewed thoughtfully. "We never knew where she went, at first, but then we realized, after her young mother Redpoppy went searching for her. Redpoppy has yet to come back, but I doubt she'll find her runaway daughter."

"Why not?" chirped one of the kits - a small tom with a pelt a riot of color, a splotchy tortoiseshell. 

"She didn't want to be found," Bramblepath replied gracefully, wrapping her tail around her paws. "I did tell you we didn't know where she went at first, but we're wiser now."

"Where'd she go?" a tiny she-cat persisted, raising a paw in impatience.

"She's living on her own territory out of the Clans'. Nowhere near Twolegs - she could have been engaged in a life of luxury, but she chose beauty over luxury. Where she lives, the rose bushes flourish, and cherry blossom trees bloom for what seems like all four seasons. Beautiful colors litter the forest floor in leaf-fall, but in Greenleaf, the colors blend so beautifully..."

And it took some time, but I understand it now

'Cause now my name is up in lights, but I think you got it right

It took sunrises for me to understand, and moons for Smokeclaw and Stormfall to do the same, but at long last, I realized Springstep's intentions. She did love us, of course, she loved her Clan too - but the fame was what she hated. Being in the limelight every moment of every sunrise, it had grown too much. She had been born only a few moons after Stormfall and I saved the Clans, so we didn't know the full extent of her problems, the full extent of her suffering. 

And I realized how our daughter was probably smarter than half of the Clan.

"Redpoppy?" At the turn of my head, Smokeclaw wrapped his tail around his paws, giving me a reserved smile before continuing in his deep voice, "Springstep spoke to me before she left. See - she didn't want to toss the grunt of this fame onto you, Stormfall, or me, but it was too much for her." He paused, biting his lip before continuing. "And...I wish I could have gone with her."

Let me tell you now, you’re the lucky one

Let me tell you now, you’re the lucky one

My mumbled reply was lost as my son rose to his feet and began to call out orders, sending cats pelting into the forest for a hunt. He gave me a brief look, and then brusquely assigned me to a patrol with Stormfall and a new apprentice, Cloverpaw, and her mentor. The other three were rounded up, and then Cloverpaw's mentor, Icewhisker, led us into the forest. 

"Icewhisker," Cloverpaw whispered, her eyes wide, "are they the Redpoppy and Stormfall from the legends?"

Icewhisker gave a chuckle, his whiskers twitching. "Of course they are!" At a muffled noise from Cloverpaw, Icewhisker added, "Why don't you ask them yourself?" He shot an apologetic glance at Stormfall and me as the mottled apprentice bounded over enthusiastically, her eyes growing wide as Twoleg feet as she approached the two of us.

"How did you overthrow those nasty leaders? What did you do? What was so nasty about them? Were they corrupt? Bramblepath says they were corrupt. What about Forestheart? Does Forestheart think they're corrupt? How about Leafstar? Leafstar wasn't corrupt, was he? Was Fleckstar corrupt? Was she nasty? She's so small!" Cloverpaw choked out.

Let me tell you now, you’re the lucky one, oh, oh, oh

Yeah they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one

Stormfall and I exchanged a brief, amused glance. "Well--er, Cloverpaw, was it?" An exuberant nod. "We just...discovered them. As deputy at the time, I had permission to do a lot of things, so we had to make sure Leafstar wasn't corrupt as well, you know. They were just very...villainous, and yes, they were very corrupt. Wouldn't you call stealing your warriors' prey and declaring war on each other, only to turn against the Clan who comes to help corrupt? I know I sure would!"

Cloverpaw beamed. "And Forestheart definitely thinks they're corrupt," I replied, swallowing back a giggle. I remembered the old, gray elder with his rasping voice and sense of humor. "Leafstar we can't be sure about, but he probably agrees it's best they're gone. Fleckstar was part of the new regime, the new leaders--"

"Wow," Cloverpaw said in awe. "And--"

"Cloverpaw," warned Icewhisker, "don't bombard the warriors, they've probably had enough questions for the day. We're nearing the border."

Yeah, they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one

And they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one, oh, oh, oh

Cloverpaw quieted, eyes on her paws. I felt slightly amused, but I realized this was what Springstep had always hated. This attention, this plea for answers to questions unfathomable. She wanted to get away from this, and she'd taken what she'd assumed to be the easy way out.

Easy for her, not easy for her family. 

Cloverpaw turned back to us as we reached the stream, her eyes suddenly bright and full of mischief, as though she had another question burning in her mind. Disregarding Icewhisker's warning, her question tumbled out excitedly.

"What happened to Springstep?"

Oh, whoa, oh, oh

At Icewhisker's protests, Stormfall and I sat down, and began to illustrate the story.

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