Once even we were strangers to each other...
“Secretpaw!” I called loudly for the white she-cat who was chatting quickly with Driftpaw, telling some exciting tale.
She turned around when she heard me calling her and grinned, a wide smile stretching across her face, “Hey, Aquapaw!” she called.
I gave her a casual flick of the tail.
“Trouble again,” a voice mused behind me, “Don’t you have anything better to do, Aquapaw? It shouldn't be long before we become warriors and you waste valuable time with silly adventures.”
“This is coming from the cat that spends all day trying to convince the apprentice that she did see several pairs of kit whiskers in Hawkstar’s den when we all know you didn’t.”
“I knew it was a lie!” Featherpaw exclaimed, as I realized she has been listening the whole time. I let out a low purr and Nightpaw’s face began to burn the slightest bit in embarrassment.
“Aquapaw was just kidding,” Nightpaw claimed, “Right, Aquapaw?”
“Of course,” I gave Featherpaw a light wink before paddling over to where Secretpaw was in discussion with Driftpaw.
“I totally killed that hunting move!” the cream she-cat exclaimed, “I can tell my mentor was definitely impressed.”
“Hi Aquapaw,” she smiled when she saw me and I waved my tail at her, shifting from paw to paw.
It had been several moons since we had saved Mistypaw and Birdwing from FireClan and taught them a very embarrassing lesson which they wouldn’t be quick to forget.
There were a few skirmishes, but the Clan was finally beginning to behave, a nice change from what we knew of them.
In the meanwhile, the apprentice den continued to grow. Mistypaw was still several moons away from becoming a warrior and yet more and more apprentices kept joining.
Pebblepaw, Amberpaw, Firepaw and Flamepaw were all knew cats to the apprentice den and were getting along well, not taking much time to adapt, and quickly finding their way around.
The rest of the apprentices had matured a fair amount. We didn’t spend every moment eyeing for trouble and the shame walk had been removed after some strong disapproval from the other warriors.
The new apprentices were to consider themselves lucky.
My mentor, Sapphireshine moved to the elder’s den and I was now the apprentice of Shimmerbreeze, who was a lot more lenient with whatever I had planned and let me go off on silly quests with my friends whenever I pleased.
Like at the moment.
“You said we could venture to the twoleg place today,” I reminded her with a gentle prod and she purred.
“I guess I did,” she claimed and gently waved her tail at Driftpaw, “I’ll see you later,” she promised and Driftpaw nodded before paddling off to the apprentice den to grab a mouse.
“So what do you expect to find there?” she asked me as we pushed our way out of camp and towards the twoleg place, which was at the edge of the territory.
“Adventure,” I replied with a grin and she rolled her eyes, a glimmer of amusement sparkling through them.
“And if we don’t?” she prompted.
“We always do,” I assured her, “It’s one of the benefits of choosing to go with me.”
“I’m aware,” her whiskers twitched gently as we continued to paddle. Leafbare was long gone now and Greenleaf was approaching. The river was still too cold to be swum in though, something Ivypaw was looking forward to being shown how to do.
“I can’t wait until we get to swim in the river again!” Secretpaw exclaimed, almost reading my thoughts, “I remember the one time we thought we killed Nightpaw. Well, she was only Nightkit then.”
I purred at the memory, although, at that particular moment when we thought we had killed our friend we had been nowhere near smiling.
“So does Hawkstar really have a collection of kit whiskers?” Secretpaw prompted me, her face half-serious, “I’m not really sure if I should believe what Nightpaw says.”
“I was too busy fighting to worry about kit whiskers,” I claimed, not wanting to steer her either directions, “And I am surprised that Nightpaw can’t say the same for herself.”
Secretpaw giggled lightly, our footsteps gently echoing back to us from the forest where they were sent to.
“It’s been a long time since I've been to the twoleg place,” I comment gently, “The last time was when we went to convince Silverpaw to return to WaterClan.”
“I remember,” she claimed, “And you left me out,” her face had mock offense on it and I gently tapped her shoulder with my tail.
“Remember, we were still trying to avoid the ‘shame walk’. It would be dangerous to take too many cats with us.”
“You have a point,” she shrugged, “But still. I really wanted to come on that one. You never seem to miss any of the big adventures.”
“I would never let anyone,” I reply with a shameless grin, “I would tell the warriors and mentors all about it, as opposed to not going then hearing the tales later on. If I don’t go, no one goes.”
“That sounds like you,” Secretpaw twitched her whiskers and I smiled fiercely, trying to blink fierce sunlight out of my eyes.
“Flamepaw caught her first bird yesterday,” Secretpaw claimed as we continued to walk, letting our conversations keep up from tiring or getting bored.
“Really?” I smiled, “How big was it? I remember my first bird! It was… the size of my paw,” I shrugged awkwardly and Secretpaw laughed.
“This one was huge. It was enough to feed nearly two elders! Flamepaw is turning out to be a great hunter!
“Everyone but me is a great hunter,” I moaned, pretending to be slightly miserable.
“You are a good fighter, though,” Secretpaw claimed, trying to sound assuring.
“Not that it helps when FireClan is too cowardly to pick up the slightest sort of battle after we saved Mistypaw and Birdwing!” I complain, “I almost miss the old FireClan!”
“I understand, I guess,” Secretpaw shrugged, “Something is strange about how quiet they are lately... I can’t see FireClan not meddling into something or planning trouble for us.”
“I can’t either,” I confessed, “But they appear to be doing just that.”
“What if they are planning a surprise attack?” her eyes sparked a little at the thought and I could feel some excitement rushing through my body.
“I wouldn't put it past them,” I claimed, “But unless it is something very grand they should have been able to put it into place by now.”
Secretpaw shrugged and staggered to a halt, turning her head gently upwards at a wired fence.
“We are here,” she claimed and I nodded, indicating that I heard.
“So what now?” she prompted, “Do we jump over the fence and hope to find something or just sit here and hope for something to find us. I’d rather not sit around...”
“We jump,” I claimed, before tucking in my legs and nimbly leaping on top of the fence. For a moment I felt proud to have made such a smooth jump, before my legs gently twisted and I felt myself falling over the other side and into a sharp bush.
“Eep!” I let out a small cry and Secretpaw rumbled with amusement from the other side of the fence before she leaped over, much more swiftly than I had done.
I pushed myself out of the bushes and gently shook my fur, to get rid of whatever had been caught inside them.
“Maybe I should have demonstrated,” Secretpaw offered with a smug twitch of her whiskers and I gently cuffed her ear.
“Be quiet,” I muttered, “Let’s not forget who knows these areas better than you because they got to go on an important adventure to bring their friend back.”
She rolled her eyes, a flicker of amusement spreading across them. I was opening my mouth to say something else when I saw cut off by a calm, but caressing voice.
“Are you two looking for anything?”
We both whipped around to find ourselves facing a starry white she-cat with black eyes as deep as the night.
“Hi!” I squeaked a short response, my pads tingling, in a way I couldn't explain, at the sight of her.
“What are you looking for?” she asked us earnestly, her pelt shimmering as I moved. Secretpaw and I both gaped in awe.
“You’re pretty,” Secretpaw commented a little shyly.
She grinned, “Thanks,” she whispered, “But I wouldn't underestimate the beauty I see across from me either,” she added.
We were all quiet for a moment before she repeated her question.
“What are you here for?”
Secretpaw shot me a knowing glance and I shrugged a little sheepishly at her before replying, “We don’t really know.”
She nodded for a moment, squinting her black eyes, and for a moment I almost felt a whiff of trouble radiating off her but it was gone as quickly as it had appeared.
“Aren't you from the Clans?” she finally asked us.
“WaterClan,” I replied, quickly chiming in, “Yes, we are from the Clans though,” I smiled, “Just came out on a stroll.”
“I've always been fascinated with them,” she confessed softly, “And wondered how they actually function.”
“It’s really great!” Secretpaw exclaimed, “Much better than living alone as a loner!”
I waited for a wince or something, anything, from the loner but she showed no emotions towards us.
“Would you mind showing me your great Clans?” she asked gently, her eyes growing softer by the moment.
“Would you like to join?” I tipped my head to the side, trying to ignore the excitement surging through my body.
“I’d like to think about it,” she claimed gently, her voice rippling through the air, as I felt another shiver creeping up my spine.
Something was not right about this cat.
But I said nothing and nodded alongside Secretpaw. I felt a small burst of relief in seeing that she was content.
There was just a feel to her that said ‘Making me upset is not in your better interest.’
“We never learned your name though,” Secretpaw claimed softly.
“I never told it,” she responded, her eyes still glittering fiercely as she turned around, “Meet me here at this time tomorrow when I will have made my choice.”
Secretpaw and I nodded, while I tried to hide my frustration and anger at being bossed around by a loner.
“Good,” she nodded, before turning around and gently paddling away from us, swaying her tail softly.
Once she was out of ear sight, Secretpaw let out a low sigh. A combination of worry, relief and anticipation.
“I don’t trust her,” she confessed.
“Me neither,” I replied frankly, not at all surprised with Secretpaw’s confession, “She’s too...”
“Powerful? Gorgeous? In control?” Secretpaw offered, “She seems too perfect to be real. And every time she narrows her eyes I feel a strange shiver creeping up my back.”
I nodded, “Exactly.”
“Did we make a mistake?” Secretpaw asked, “Agreeing to meet her here tomorrow?”
“I’m sure it will be fine,” I claimed, “She can’t mean harm to WaterClan anyways. No one even said she would join. Or that we would let her if she wanted to.”
“True,” Secretpaw shrugged, “I still don’t like the aurora to her.”
I tipped my head to the side, “My head hurts when I worry,” I confessed, “Let’s just go back to camp and see how it all plays out.”
“Sure,” she accepted my offer, “But this time, I leap over the fence first,” she grinned and I snorted, following quickly after her as she leaped onto the fence, letting out a call of triumph followed by a quick yelp for help as she fell over and into a bush on the other side.
I grinned, knowing that Secretpaw would never hear the end of this adventure.
“You are here,” she smiled vaguely, “I knew that you would come, when you said so.”
“We keep our words,” I claimed with an airy shrug. Secretpaw and I had agreed to be very cautious of the dangerous cat that stood proudly before us.
“I know,” her eyes glittered and yet another shiver worked its way straight up my spine without bothering to stop.
“So have you decided to join?” Secretpaw asked.
We were all silent for a moment and I prayed to StarClan that she wouldn't give us the answer we feared.
“Yes I have.”
My heart plunged and I sucked in deep breaths. The Clan would be quick to become suspicious of a cat like this and I couldn't blame them. We still didn’t know her name.
“You should probably give us your name first then,” I claimed gently, “If you really want to join the Clan.”
She nodded, “I suppose I can’t hide it forever. My name is Star.”
“That’s a pretty name,” I replied, “It suits you very well,” I added after peeking into her eyes for a moment.
“I know,” she smiled, looking a little too confident, “Now can you take me to your camp?”
“Aquapaw, I need to tell you something very important!” Secretpaw suddenly blurted shoving me away, “We will be right back,” she promised Star as we paddled away from her.
“What is it?” I asked, a little surprised by how suddenly she had decided to drag me away.
“This isn't safe,” Secretpaw decided, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to let her into camp. It’s safe to agree she is dangerous.”
“But what if she tries to fight us, and breaks into camp?” I asked, unable to keep, myself from agreeing with her.
“Then we fight her,” Secretpaw responded, “We won’t let her past. We made a mistake by sneaking out and even striking conversation with her in the first place, as well as agreeing to come here, but we can make them up by stopping her now.”
I paused for a moment. She was dangerous. We already knew that. We didn’t need to see her in action to have it proved. And the Clan had no time to deal with a cat that could become a potential problem.
“You’re right,” I agreed, “We have to deny.”
“I’m afraid you won’t get away with that,” Star claimed, stepping out from behind a tree, indicating that she had heard our conversation, her claws gently slipping out, “You will let me pass now.”
I exchanged a glance with Secretpaw before gritting my teeth, “You can’t tell us what to do. You are not coming into our territory.”
Secretpaw nodded, “Over our dead bodies.”
“If that’s what it takes,” she raised an eyebrow before leaping at us with sheathed claws, aimed to kill.
I sucked in a deep breath and exchanged a final glance with Secretpaw. If we died, it would be together, and it would be defending our Clan.
I pulled in my legs and leaped at Star, meeting her claws midair.