Prologue ~ I'm Sorry
“Hirondelle! Hirondelle, can you come here, my sweet? There’s something I need to tell you.”
A dark head shot up from the three kits that were playing nearby from the cat who had called. “What? Does it have to be now? Regen and I are having an awesome fight!” the kit called, as she took aim at her dark gray-and-white brother nearby.
The cat who had spoken first, a blue-silver she-cat, nodded. “Yes, Hirondelle… now.” Her voice was slow, soft.
Hirondelle looked annoyed at the she-cat’s comment. “Fine, then. Regen can play with Nuage,” the kit mewed irritably as she padded up to her, tail raised. “What is it?”
The blue-silver she-cat sighed. She didn’t want to break the news to her. She didn’t, but… this was the thing that she’d been told to do, for the kit’s sake… for her mother. This was for her real mother.
Kereru, the she-cat, knew that she’d appreciate it later.
“…Now, Hirondelle, I don’t know how happy you’re going to be about this…” Kereru started, her voice still quiet. “…But I have to do this. I’ve been told to do this by another cat, and –”
“Another cat? Who?” Hirondelle interrupted, the dark-furred she-cat rearing up onto her hind legs. “Was it Ombre?” Her tail waved slightly at the mention of her so-called father, while she landed back on her front paws, blue eyes fixed on Kereru.
The blue-silver she-cat shook her head. “…No, it wasn’t Ombre.” Kereru winced at the mention of her mate: Regen and Nuage’s father. “It’s a cat you don’t know – who I don’t even know.”
The she-kit paused, confused. “…That’s weird,” Hirondelle complained, her dark tabby head cocked to one side. “…Why do you have to tell me something that some random cat told you?”
“…She told me to tell you this,” Kereru sighed slowly. Now was the time she’d have to tell her daughter… her adopted daughter the truth. “Hirondelle, I’m not your real mother.”
For once, the kit was silent, staring at Kereru with a confused glare. “What – what do you mean?” Her voice was strained, her blue eyes clouded.
Kereru let out a long sigh. “…I’m sorry, Hirondelle.” Her tail swept in the direction of her adopted daughter, who took it: Hirondelle seemed too much in a daze after this information. “…You’ll appreciate it later… and I really didn’t want to tell you.”
And for one long, quiet moment, the two cats were right next to each other, looking so uneasy about everything.
Both were pained about what was said that day. Kereru was pained by the fact Hirondelle may not ever find her mother… she feared for her.
However, this wasn’t her choice… and she had to accept it.
Chapter One ~ One Wish
Twenty-seven moons later…
My adopted brother’s head shot up from where he was sitting. Regen’s yellow eyes seemed alight as they set on me, something in its depth that I couldn’t see. “It’s nice of you to pay a visit,” the tabby-and-white tom added, looking interested.
I flicked my tail. “Not for long. You know that… Where’s Kereru? I want to ask her a question about something.” My voice, I realized, was sharp – maybe a little too bitter in its tone.
Regen, however, didn’t appear to have noticed, but his eyes seemed to darken slightly. He paused, for a moment, thinking, before shaking his head. “Good question, Hirondelle. Where is my mother?” He sounded slightly strained at this, as if there was a word that he didn’t want to say there.
I was sure I knew what it was.
Yes, we’d been raised together. Yes, we were kinda close. But there was something I couldn’t ever get off my mind – we weren’t related, as far as I was concerned. No – Kereru, although raising me, had told me that she wasn’t the cat who had given birth to me.
I’m happy that she told me when I was young, though. If she’d told me later… I’m sure I would’ve been hurt more than I had.
While I was off in thought, Regen had turned behind him, and had called to his sister. Now as I drifted back out of my thoughts, I could see the pale gray shape of Nuage lifting her head in response. “What is it?” she mewed sleepily.
“Nuage, Hirondelle is wondering where Kereru is,” Regen mewed briskly. “I don’t know where she is, though. Do you know –”
Nuage interrupted her darker brother with a snort. “You never pay attention, do you? Kereru told me she’d gone for a hunt.” The she-cat paused to sniff. “She should be back any minute now. She never goes out for too long, especially now as she’s starting to age.”
“Thank you, Nuage,” Regen mewed, rolling his eyes at the last bit as if it was obvious. Turning back to me, he added: “There you go. Goody-two-paws Nuage has told us where Kereru is. Now, we shall wait until she returns.”
I rolled my eyes at my adopted brother. “Whatever, Regen.” Turning my back on him, I too waited silently, waiting for the cat I wanted to talk to come so that I could see her.
There was something that I needed to ask her.
I wanted answers.
I, Hirondelle, wanted to ask a question that Kereru had always kept silent: who my parents really were.
It was something she rarely had mentioned, if at all. Of course, Regen and Nuage knew the truth – they had been told about me not being their sibling by blood – but apart from that, none of us spoke a word of it. After all, I was – in a sense – part of their family through all of this. I was part of them. I thanked them a lot for that.
After all, if Kereru hadn’t taken me in, I would have no family.
A voice, slightly raspy with age, interrupted the stony silence. Turning, I saw a faint flicker of blue-silver at the edge of my vision, and as I rose to my paws and got closer, it was none other than Kereru herself, who had come and faced me. “It’s… been a while,” my adopted mother, stated, looking me over.
I sighed. “Yeah, I know,” I mewed, feeling a little embarrassed. “I came because… I wanted to ask you something.”
At once, I noticed Kereru’s aqua-blue gaze darken. “...About what?”
There was no point in hiding the truth. I knew that. My adopted mother wouldn’t let anything stay away from her. “I…” I murmured, looking awkwardly at the ground. I had become suddenly nervous… which was quite unlike me. “Kereru, I… I want to know about my real parents. Like, my birth ones…” Looking off to the side, my voice faltered.
I could feel Kereru’s gaze burning into my pelt. “…Oh, Hirondelle…” I heard her sigh softly. “I never wanted to…” A pause. “I… I know very little about your parents… but I guess it may help you if I tell you what I know of then.”
Raising my head, I turned to face Kereru. “I’d appreciate that.” Looking to the side, I saw Regen and Nuage nearby, who had probably heard the whole conversation I’d had with their mother. “Can we talk… away from Regen and…”
I didn’t need to finish my sentence. “As you wish, Hirondelle,” she purred, before turning slightly. “Let’s go now, shall we? Knowing you, you won’t stick around for long.”
I nodded briskly. “Yes please.”
And at that, the two of us left the area, and wandered off into the forest, so that I could hear the little that Kereru knew of my parents.
I hope it helps. I… I really want to find them, know who they are. It… it hurts, not knowing who they are.
Chapter Two ~ Answers, Answers
We travelled in silence for a few minutes. Our pawsteps fell into rhythm beside each other’s: Kereru, despite her age, was still in fairly good shape, and could keep up with my fairly brisk pawsteps.
For some reason, hearing the pawsteps calmed me down. Maybe it was because I felt a little… nervous about what she would say. I didn’t know why. Would I be let down…?
I was kind of worried about being let down, truth be told. I just really wanted to know… and if I didn’t know, I knew that I’d probably be angry, disappointed.
I just wanted answers…
“This should be far away enough.” Beside me, Kereru slowed down to a stop, my adopted mother’s blue eyes scanning the place that we’d come to. “Hirondelle, sit down, and I’ll tell you what I know.”
Exhaling with a sigh, I sat down with a thud on the leafy forest floor. “Okay, then,” I breathed, looking up while trying to sound confident. Inside, I felt like I was going to get overwhelmed by nerves as I spoke. “Tell me all you know.”
This was it. Maybe some of my questions would be answered at last.
Kereru sighed. “…Firstly, I’ll tell you this… when you were given to me, it was only your mother that left you. I’ve never seen your father, nor do I know who he may be. However, I do know this for sure: you must look like him, as you look nothing like what I recall your mother to be looking like.”
…So you’ve never met my father? A sinking feeling hit my stomach. …He could be dead. I felt bad at this, for no particular reason at all. “…Is this why you didn’t want to tell me all this?” I mewed softly.
My adopted mother nodded. “That’s part of it,” she mewed. “But yes, you’ve probably inherited your father’s looks. However, you do have your mother’s eyes. They’re a lot like hers, your eyes.”
I nodded, taking it in, before pausing. “What did my mother look like, anyway?” I questioned, suddenly becoming curious. “You said that she didn’t look like me… right?”
Kereru nodded again. “Yes, that’s right. I believe she was gray-and-ginger, if I recall correctly.” A pause. “But this is what I do remember vividly, and I don’t know what you’ll think of this, but… I believe that, from her scent, she was from one of the Clans.”
My head shot up in surprise. What? “You’re not serious.”
“Oh, Hirondelle, I am serious. Would I lie to you about that?” Kereru mewed sharply in response.
I blinked at the blue-silver she-cat for a moment, at her posture, and then I realized: she was being serious. Well then, why did she abandon me?
In this area of forest, there were three Clans – two, minus DarkClan, of which Kereru claimed to not be a real Clan, due to being ‘too vicious’. There were FlameClan, and ScorchClan. I thought that they must’ve had some sort of system, because I’ve heard that some cat called ‘Alderstar’ or something like that leads ScorchClan.
And they have got some funny names as well. I’ve found them to be slightly ridiculous. I don’t understand why some cat would call themselves ‘Alderstar’, truth be told.
“I can’t believe it,” I gasped quietly. “I can’t believe it. I…”
A tail brushed against my dark fur. “There was a reason why I didn’t want to tell you, Hirondelle…” Kereru mewed softly into my ear. “Ombre and I said that we wouldn’t say anything at all about this… but I think that you deserve answers. I’d like you to know, of course… I want you to be happy, Hirondelle. You’re like my own daughter, you know?”
Embarrassed, I ducked my head. “I know… I know you do.” Straightening up again, I added: “However, thanks for telling me. I wanted to know.”
Silence followed. Quietly, I saw Kereru looking at the ground, obviously in her own thoughts, before turning back to me. “I assume you’ll be going off again, then?”
I blinked. I completely forgot that I was thinking of going… I nodded. “Yeah, I need some time to… think about this.” A pause. “So… I’ll talk to you again later, I guess?”
“Yeah,” Kereru breathed. “I’ll see you around then, Hirondelle? Stay safe.”
“I’ll stay safe. See you later.” Turning my back on the blue-silver she-cat, I padded off before I could linger around any longer.
After this, my head felt as though it was buzzing with all this new information. I felt happy, yet lonely: overjoyed, yet disappointed. If I could find her, I’d ask my mother why she abandoned me in the first place… It’ll be hard, but… I can try to find her, I guess?
At my own idea, I nodded. Yes, that’s what I’ll do… I’ll try and find her, even though I have no idea where to start.
Chapter Three ~ Scorch's Flame
A moon passed, but to no avail. I hadn’t come any closer to finding my real parents at all… and I really didn’t have a lot of time to look for them either. Between wandering around loner and rogue territory, hunting for food, sleeping, grooming, and talking to the occasional cat or two, there wasn’t much time to go looking… especially with the lack of clues that I had.
For no particular reason whatsoever, I found myself heading in the direction of ScorchClan’s border. Yes, I wasn’t really interested in the Clans, but… didn’t Kereru tell me that my mother was from a Clan, or something like that? Maybe that’ll get me some clues.
As I got closer, I tasted the air. Shrugging off some ScorchClan scent – probably from the cats defending their territory or something – I was caught by another scent. To be precise, it was loner scent. I wasn’t alone here…
…And as I looked up, I saw another cat in the distance. Some sort of prey was in their jaws, but from where I was standing, I couldn’t make out what that was – not that it mattered, obviously.
Thoughts about my mother forgotten, I cursed under my breath. Really, at this moment of my day!? Turning, I tried to move off, but was stopped as I heard the cat call:
“What’re you doing?”
The other cat approached me: their pawsteps brisk as they came near me. From tasting the air again, I realized that this cat was a she-cat. From the looks of her, she looked like she’d seen a few more seasons than I had.
In response to the she-cat’s question, I replied: “I’m just wandering…” My voice came out as a huff: probably because I was annoyed at being bothered. “Calm down, jeez.” As I spoke, my dark tabby tail twitched irritably.
Despite my slightly unfriendly actions, the she-cat didn’t seem bothered by my terse response. Her eyes only narrowed: this was her only reaction to my words. “What’s your name?”
Okay, so they want to be friendly with me… Okay, fine, I just won’t reveal too much. I didn’t say anything for a moment as thoughts whirled in my head, before finally responding: “Hirondelle,” I said gruffly, looking away from this cat in boredom. Really, all I wanted to do right now was to stay away from other cats, and not talk to others. I had better things to do than this right now.
The cat was still not deterred: this surprised me. “The name’s Scorchflame,” she mewed, her voice seeming… slightly unsure, for some reason? “You live around here?”
I felt as though I was almost ready to lose it. First of all, I was disturbed. Now, this cat wanted to talk to me. However, judging by the name and from her scent, she was some… ex-Clan cat, or something of the like. I was too polite to ask this… Scorchflame cat that, and I needed to answer her question.
Turning back to the pale-eyed she-cat, I huffed out a response, not really thinking about what was coming out of my mouth before I said it. “Yeah, what d’ya think?” That was something I, myself, was at least sure of, even if I didn’t know my birth parents. “I’ve lived here all my life. If you have a problem with that, don’t tell it to me, okay?”
Scorchflame’s voice suddenly became strained. “No, I don’t have a problem with that.” A pause, a strained pause followed.
My mind was blank. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even want to say anything. All I wanted was for this conversation to end.
By the time the conversation finally ended, and Scorchflame headed back off into who-knows-where, I was well and truly grumpy.
It was as if… this cat had somehow known about me, from some way or another. She was quite interested to hear about a lot of things about me. I was quite annoyed by this – why would you trust a cat that you’ve never known in your life? – and I didn’t give her half the answers she’d wanted. Eventually, I’d had enough, so with a quick farewell I stalked off.
I swear she was trying to, like, stalk me or something. Scorchflame can leave me alone, for all I care.
That was the thought that haunted me as I went back to my den. There was also this… weird feeling that I had. Something about her… I felt as though she knew something, and it bugged me.
Shrugging off the thought, I continued on. That was only the first time we’ve talked. Ever. She won’t know anything about my life.
I’m just going to pretend that conversation didn’t happen, then.
Chapter Four ~ Not the Only One
There was no denying, though, that the conversation was something I wasn’t going to forget easily.
That was exactly what happened afterwards. I knew that I was more vulnerable to getting annoyed at something after Scorchflame had appeared. Why it was that way, I wasn’t sure – I just couldn’t place my paw on why.
It was, especially, in the moon following that incident. But, as time does, I started to move on, started to forget it. Despite that, this feeling was still there – just less nagging, less frequently brought up.
So one day, two moons after that talk, I found myself along the ScorchClan border. I was on high alert, not daring to step into the Clan’s territory at all. As a kit, I’d heard of the Clans, and what Kereru had told me about stepping into their boundaries. “You’ll get shredded to death,” she’d warned us gravely, which had scared us all off from ever wandering in there.
I was also not very keen to run into a Clan cat. Sure, I’d never talked to one – apart from that Scorchflame cat – but from the fact that her scent had been loner-ish, as well as her name, I had assumed that she was at least a former member of a Clan.
Suddenly, I picked up some ScorchClan scent – fresh, too. Quickly, I backed away from the border line, in worry that one of them was going to get me. After I’d gone a few tree-lengths from the border, I thought I was safe from them, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Leave me alone, you ScorchCl –
To my surprise, there was a soft rustling noise, and I saw the cat that I’d scented. A tortoiseshell-and-white shape was now outside her Clan’s boundaries – I could smell her Clan scent. I then saw her turn in my direction, as I was in full view of her current location.
“What’re you doing?” The she-cat’s voice was of a medium pitch, rising as she finished her sentence. She looked young, too – younger than what I was, but an adult cat regardless. Seeing me, and my slightly alarmed expression, she added: “I’m not going to hurt you, I’m looking for someone.”
I’m surprised that a Clan cat would be looking for someone out here. What would some Clan cat want to do with a loner or a rogue? Knowing that this wasn’t me she was looking for, I grunted in response: “I’m assuming this cat is not me.” A pause followed – I wasn’t really sure whether to trust this cat, bit I thought that asking a question wouldn’t be a bad idea. “Who is it you seek?”
The Clan cat looked surprised at my offer of help – I could see it in her amber eyes. “…A cat called Scorchflame,” she replied, sounding slightly worried. “You’ve heard of her?”
At the mention of the cat, I grunted irritably. I was in no mood to search for the she-cat. However, I knew that I couldn’t say no. “I know of her. I’ll try to help you find her… but I can’t hope.”
Flicking my tail for the tortoiseshell to follow, I went into the forest, heading away from the ScorchClan border. She followed me, appearing at my shoulder. “My name’s Flashdusk, by the way,” she introduced. “What’s yours?”
I couldn’t help but think that Flashdusk was a pretty name, and one that I liked more than Scorchflame. “Hirondelle,” I mewed in reply, keeping my voice even. I then paused as Flashdusk nodded in reply, before I added: “You’re a Clan cat, right?”
Confidently, Flashdusk nodded. “Yes. I’m from ScorchClan – lived there all my life.” Her voice had a hint of pride in it as she talked about her Clan.
My eyes narrowed slightly at this. She seems happy talking about her Clan… so why is she out here? “Why are you out here, then?” My words were unsure, sounding as though I was testing them out. “You Clan cats… never leave your territories.”
“I need to ask Scorchflame for some answers.” Flashdusk’s answer was said shortly, and in a manner that indicated that she didn’t want to talk about it. Unfortunately, this triggered me to answer another question:
“So she’s not a Clan cat, then?”
The tortoiseshell-and-white cat shook her head. “Not right now. She used to be, before I was born.” Flashdusk paused slightly, as if she’d said enough on the topic. “Shall we continue looking? We’re not going to get anywhere if we’re sitting around here all day.”
I sighed. “Yeah. Let’s find her, then, shall we?” With that, both of us turned, and padded off next to each other.
There was no denying that on first impression of Flashdusk that she was an interesting cat. She seemed as though she was also… searching for something. It gave me a feeling that I could relate to her.
…And maybe… maybe, she could help me with my answers too, I thought, as the thought that my mother could be a Clan cat reverberated through my head again. Maybe Flashdusk could help.
Maybe I’m not the only one searching.
Chapter Five ~ She's Hiding Something
A few hours passed, and so far, Flashdusk and I had no luck. Because we’d searched for a while, we’d stopped to hunt: prey was obviously abundant, as we both caught prey quickly. Settling down to eat our meals, Flashdusk told me why she was out here in the first place.
“I was told,” Flashdusk mewed after she’d swallowed a mouthful of squirrel, “that Scorchflame was my mother.” She looked awkwardly to the side. “Then, one day… Smokeash – he’s Scorchflame’s sister – got really sick. He was dying. He summoned me to his deathbed… and told me that she wasn’t my mother, and that my parents were rogues.”
At that, I couldn’t bring myself to say a word. I had been right in my motives all along – that she was searching for something. She was searching for her parents as well, nonetheless.
“I think she knows who my parents are,” the tortoiseshell went on. “Apparently she told Smokeash to tell the Clan that I was her daughter, as well. Then she ran off, left ScorchClan, became a loner.”
I nodded slowly, nibbling at the crow that I’d caught. At least she had an idea of where to search for her parents. Secretly, I was envious of that, but I wasn’t going to let Flashdusk onto that.
“So,” Flashdusk mewed, as she ate another bit of squirrel, “what about you? Do you loners have… family out here?”
I flinched at that. Thinking about my family was hard, especially thinking of my unknown biological parents. Sure, I had Kereru and Ombre, Regen and Nuage… but that was different. My ties to them weren’t by blood, like they were.
Sure, I did care about them, but they just… raised me.
“Yeah, we have family,” I mewed defensively. “Not all rogues are heartless, y’know.”
She looked taken aback by this: her amber eyes were wide as she took a step back. “I’m – I’m sorry,” Flashdusk meowed, looking startled. “You seem – bothered, by what I said.” A pause. “Maybe I shouldn’t press –”
“No, I’ll tell you the truth,” I responded flatly. This was not something I told to every cat… especially not a cat I barely knew, like Flashdusk. “I… I don’t know who my real parents are, either.”
I shivered slightly as I told her that. Her response: a tip of her black, ginger, and white head, and her amber eyes going slightly round. “So –” she mewed slowly, after hesitating for a moment after I said it, “you understand how it feels.” I could see her taking a few deep breaths as what I told her sunk in.
“Yeah,” I mewed uneasily, shifting slightly. “I don’t really want to talk about it though.” Not right now, I added in my thoughts – maybe, if I decided to trust the tortoiseshell-and-white cat, I would reveal everything.
Not really wanting to talk about missing parents in my life anymore, I changed the subject. The prey had been eaten now: we had to move off. “Shall we continue with what you want, then?”
Arching her back, Flashdusk stretched, before she returned to a normal position. “Yeah, good point,” she mewed. “Let’s get going then, Hirondelle.”
With a brisk nod, I too rose to my paws, and the two of us headed back out into the forest, to go find Scorchflame again.
It wasn’t long before we found what we were looking for.
Not long into our next shot at searching, Flashdusk picked up a scent behind us. “…I think some cat’s following us,” the ScorchClan cat mewed quietly, attracting my attention.
My tail rose in interest, as I checked. Flashdusk was right that there was a cat following us – and it was indeed a familiar cat. “…Ah.” I paused again, to retaste the air… and I knew that the search was over. That scent was definitely Scorchflame.
“I recognize this –” I began, but I was cut off mid-sentence, as a bush behind us rustled. Then, Scorchflame herself appeared. The average sized cat’s neither light nor dark fur was well-groomed, and her gaze set on me. I didn’t meet it.
“Oh hi there,” I mewed quickly, feeling awkward. My words were aimed at Scorchflame, whom I knew was still looking at me intensely with her pale eyes. “We were looking for you… actually, she was looking for you…” As I spoke the last sentence, my tail flicked in Flashdusk’s direction.
Looking up again, I saw the she-cat gasp. Scorchflame was now looking at Flashdusk, looking slightly surprised to see her. “Flash…?” she whispered quietly, so that only the three of us could hear. From that sentence, I got the idea that Scorchflame knew Flashdusk from somewhere.
Unlike the older she-cat, Flashdusk looked unsure under Scorchflame’s glare. “…Flashdusk,” the tortoiseshell whispered, looking down at her pale paws.
My gaze flickered to Scorchflame, who had sighed. “So you did become a warrior,” the loner mewed. “Smokeash must’ve done what I asked then.”
At the mention of warrior, my thoughts whirled in confusion. Is that some Clan cat thing? I was so busy thinking about what a warrior could be that I missed Flashdusk’s next words. I only did break out of my trance when Scorchflame let out a loud moan. “What… No, Smokeash!” she cried painfully, obviously hurting as she heard about the death of her brother.
The she-cat trembled following this, as she straightened back up. Her pale eyes were now clouded with grief: and I knew that she was mourning her deceased brother. Turning back to Flashdusk, the next words that she spoke were unsteady, and slightly raspy. “I had to do it for my sake.”
I’m assuming you’re talking about telling your former Clan that Flashdusk was your daughter, I thought.
“I had to pretend to be a mother to some cat…” Scorchflame’s words were faltering slightly now: she seemed reluctant to continue. However, she did finish her sentence, just managed to, as she choked out: “…because long ago, I let go of that opportunity.”
At this, my tail raised in interest. What…? Looking to the side, I saw Flashdusk in a confused stake like I was, and she voiced that thought. “What are you…?”
It was as if Scorchflame has realized what she’d said after that: her pale eyes widened in shock. “Oops, I said too much,” the former Clan cat mewed quickly, before clearing her throat and changing the subject. “Flashdusk… I do know one cat that will help you in your answers.” With one quick movement, the older cat rose her paws, looking as though she wanted to leave where she was immediately.
Flashdusk, too, rose onto her paws, and I followed suit. Even though I didn’t have anything to do with this, curiosity carried me on. My thoughts were on Scorchflame, and what she’d said.
She sounded like she’d had some kits… I decided, as I followed Flashdusk and Scorchflame back into the forest. Maybe she lost them. Somehow.
Despite all of that, there was one thing that I couldn’t deny about what she’d said…
…and that was the fact that I knew that Scorchflame was hiding something.
Chapter Six ~ An Unexpected Turn
Yawning in boredom, I looked down at my dark paws as the other cats in the den talked.
I was not really paying attention to what was going on, to say the least. The three of us had arrived here on Scorchflame’s direction – the bi-coloured she-cat, Flashdusk, and I – and now the other two cats were talking with this old, skinny tom. Due to the conversation having no effect on me whatsoever, I’d zoned out, but I could still hear then talking.
I could faintly hear the silver cat, Titan, talking about Flashdusk’s parents’ deaths. I heard a few of the words that the old tom had said: “…don’t know how your father died … on her deathbed … stillborn littermates … didn’t live long enough.”
Some of those words made my heart sink. Flashdusk’s parents… dead. She’d never know them. I might never know my parents, either, I thought to myself at that, feeling slightly despondent.
“I told him to tell the Clan that you were my daughter, even though you were not.” Scorchflame had now got a turn to speak, her attention turned on the tortoiseshell that was on my right side. The next thing that happened surprised me: her gaze shifted to me. Her gaze paused on me, and I could feel Scorchflame’s pale eyes burning into my fur, nagging me to look back.
However, just as I was about to turn to her to meet it, Scorchflame turned away. My gaze then paused on her from a moment.
You’re hiding something. The thought that had been haunting me for what seemed like days came back to me. There was no denying that the older she-cat seemed somewhat... uneasy, yet curious about me. I wasn’t sure what to think of it, but it made me suspicious.
Her gaze had set back on Flashdusk. The tortoiseshell-and-white she-cat was speaking to Scorchflame, her voice unusually higher than its normal pitch. “But… why did you tell Smokeash to tell the Clan that I was your daughter…?”
Silently, my gaze set on Scorchflame as she let out a long, soft sigh. Her ears pinned back against her skull for a split second, and I could tell that she was worried about something. “…I feared that this question would come, Flashdusk,” she whispered, her voice quiet as her head raised again. Once again, her gaze meant my own, and this time I met it.
She looks… pained, I thought to myself, as she turned back to Flashdusk again. It was just those two cats and I in the conversation now: an exhausted Titan had fallen asleep. I can see this… pain in her eyes.
“…I supposed you must’ve heard rumors about a cat called Tigerheart, then?” Scorchflame was talking to Flashdusk again. I guessed that this was yet another Clan cat, judging by the name that was given.
The amber-eyed cat that she had spoken to nodded “Yeah, I’ve heard of him…” she mewed thoughtfully, before shaking her fur out. “Apparently he was the medicine cat before Tipcloud. Why?”
Medicine cat…? There was no denying that Clan terminology confused me. This had to be one of their terms.
A pause followed, with Scorchflame looking as though she was about to speak. The former Clan cat looked hesitant as well, as if she couldn’t bring herself to say anything. Finally, though, she spoke: “If you guys promise not to tell a soul of what I’m about to tell you, I’ll tell all. But I don’t think any of you are going to like it.”
A feeling of uneasiness hit my stomach, as I shot a look at Scorchflame. Whatever she was going to reveal seemed very important, and not something she’d tell lightly. Feeling nervous inside, I nodded.
Flashdusk also gave her consent, spurring Scorchflame to start her uneasy speech. “Well… Tigerheart and I were quite close,” she began.
What’s the problem with that!? Irritated, my tail-tip twitched. “So what…?” I grunted insensitively.
To my slight alarm, both former and current Clan cats were annoyed by this: Scorchflame had a more minor reaction, only eyeing me up, but Flashdusk scowled heavily. “Medicine cats aren’t meant to have a mate or kits,” she hissed quietly to me, leaning over to say the words.
I thought immediately that that rule was stupid. Sure, not all cats want to have kits, but… denying cats of having kits because of a role? I don’t agree with that. However, I didn’t say that, because I knew neither cat would be pleased if I told that to them.
Scorchflame had overheard Flashdusk’s words to me, as the she-cat nodded. “That is true, Flashdusk. It’s to stop them from being disloyal to their Clan… but unfortunately for Tigerheart, he… fell in love with me. He got distracted from his duties… but I had fallen for him as well, and I couldn’t let my feelings go. He eventually got demoted from his position and fled… I was devastated.” Her voice dropped as she finished the sentence, and she looked upset. I couldn’t help but get this feeling that… she was still in love with this Tigerheart cat.
But Scorchflame still wasn’t finished. She took in one shaky breath, before continuing again: “…But it wasn’t the end,” she sighed softly, sadly. “I found out I… was expecting his kits… it was against the warrior code, my love for him, and then that happened!” The words at the end sounded anguished, rising in volume so I thought she’d almost yowl out the last few words.
Warrior code. Another Clan term, for sure. The Clans have some really crazy words for stuff…
“I couldn’t risk my Clanmates finding out, so I gave birth away from my Clan, and then gave my sole daughter away so that I could forget about it all…” Scorchflame’s voice then dropped to a whisper, as a really bad git feeling hit into my stomach. “But I did vow to tell her why this happened.”
No, this can’t be right.
Suddenly, everything clicked. Suddenly, I understood. Kereru didn’t lie when she said my mother had my eyes, a gray-and-ginger pelt. She didn’t lie when she said she was a former Clan cat either… she was completely right…
“And that is exactly what I have done.” My mother’s gaze turned towards my mine, her pale sky-blue gaze, and in shock I gazed back into Scorchflame’s eyes, feeling dizzy.
Chapter Seven ~ The Truth, The Truth
I felt Flashdusk’s tail lying on my back as I crouched over, feeling sick to the stomach. How is this even possible…? Anger, relief, and shock spun around in my head, not sure on which emotion to fully settle on.
I was relieved, because I knew the truth now. I was Hirondelle, daughter of Scorchflame… and that Tigerheart cat, whoever he was. I felt anger for her not telling me earlier, and shock because I never would’ve guessed that it was her.
“No…” I wailed, as I closed my eyes and turned away from Scorchflame’s gaze.
“…Sorry,” I heard the gray-and-ginger she-cat whisper softly nearby, but I was barely listening. I was trying to comprehend it all. Moving away from Flashdusk’s tail, I curled into a tight ball onto the ground, wishing that I could hide away and not come out.
I need time. Time to process this…
A moon passed, and the truth still hurt, though I was finally starting to accept it.
I hadn’t brought up the courage to talk to anyone about it. I’d stayed away from Kereru and the rest of my adopted family, and at the same time I hadn’t gone up to Scorchflame and asked her to talk about… why she left me, and my father. In the first moon, I was too fragile from the news to ask.
However, now, time had passed. Now, I felt ready to talk to my mother, and ask her about the things I hadn’t dared to ask earlier.
That morning that I decided that was a sunny morning: sun was pouring through the leaves of the forest, radiating warmth. It was now nearing the middle of greenleaf, and that I felt reflected the journey I had to finding out who I really was.
First, there was leaf-bare, when I said that I would search. Then, newleaf came, and it brought great promise – and it brought that. Now, it was greenleaf, and I knew that this journey would come to an end at some point – possibly, even, when leaf-fall arrived and the leaves fell back to earth.
I’d found my mother by herself, seemingly reflecting on life as it was. So, then and there, I approached her. As I did so, a look came into the gray-and-ginger cat’s eyes – a look of surprise. “Hirondelle?” I heard her ask, confusion in her tone.
I decided to get straight to the point. “Tell me everything… why did you have to leave me?”
A clouded look crept into Scorchflame’s pale eyes, and she bowed her head. I watched as she hesitated, not really sure what to say, before her words came out unsteadily. “You… I broke the warrior code when I bore you, Hirondelle. In other words, you never should have been born.”
My heart sank. She did something bad, was the first thing that came to my mind. This ‘warrior code’ seemed like something that Clan cats would follow - but despite knowing nothing about it, I assumed it was a bad thing to break. “…But why?”
Scorchflame shook her bi-coloured head. “It’s hard to explain, considering you’ve never been a member of a Clan,” she replied. “I wouldn’t bother going through the details of it. However, I do recall that Flashdusk told you that medicine cats weren’t able to have a mate or kits, yes?”
At that, I nodded, recalling the moment: Flashdusk hissing under her breath at me, and Scorchflame eyeing me up with her unblinking gaze.
“Well,” my mother continued, seeing my response, “Tigerheart was a medicine cat. Medicine cats… they’re meant to put the Clan above everything else. Unfortunately, he fell for me… and got distracted.” Uncomfortably, she broke off, sounding as though she didn’t really want to touch on the subject.
“And then he got demoted from his position and fled the Clan,” I mewed drily, remembering this from the day I learnt the truth. “Yeah, I know all that.”
Scorchflame nodded slowly. “Yep.” A pause followed this, and she cleared her through before continuing on: “About a half-moon or so after he left… I found out I was expecting you. I was scared for myself – what if the Clan found out? He’d fled, and I hadn’t seen him, so even Tigerheart didn’t know. In fact…” Scorchflame’s voice trailed off again, and this time she sounded as though she would really break. “…I haven’t seen him since he fled. For all I know, he could be dead.” After this, she wailed, and I knew then and there that she still loved my father.
I didn’t respond, only lowered my head. I may never meet him. It hurt knowing that. There was no denying that sometimes, and in this particular case I knew that was true. Shaking my head, I looked back up at Scorchflame, half-off in thought. Well, I guess that I got to meet at least one of my parents… Flashdusk never got the chance to meet hers.
“So in the later stages of the Clan, I told Smokeash that I was going to head off for a short while, and that’s what I did.” My mother’s voice broke me out of my thought, and my attention returned solely to her. “Then, I had you, an only child – much to my surprise. However, I knew that I couldn’t keep you: if you did, the whole Clan would’ve known that you were Tigerheart’s daughter… you resemble him, Hirondelle, you really do.” At the end of that sentence, Scorchflame sniffed.
“…What exactly did he look like?” I asked, curious. “You’ve never told me that much about him.”
A sad look entered the gray-and-ginger cat’s pale eyes at this. “…His pelt was predominantly white… which never really suited his name much, oh well,” she began. “He had brown patches though – paler than yours, for sure, but you’ve got his colouring. He had amber eyes, though. You’ve got my eyes.”
An image of my father appeared in my mind: a brown-patched white cat with amber eyes. I imagined his patches to have stripes on them, considering my tabby markings, but I couldn’t be bothered asking Scorchflame about that. “Okay, then.”
With a brisk nod, she continued: “So that’s why I left you with your adopted mother. I was scared of them finding out.” A pause. “But I struggled after returning. I couldn’t help but think of you, of Tigerheart. So I ran away from my Clan… and found Flashdusk’s mother kitting. She died after naming her, and I brought her to ScorchClan, told my brother to tell the Clan that lie, and then ran off.”
I nodded, sighing. “…So that’s why you left me… and didn’t give me a Clan name.”
Scorchflame nodded. “You were never going to be a Clan cat… so Hirondelle was the name I gave you before I left you behind. I heard some loner saying it… it means ‘swallow’. It suits you.” A pleased look was in her pale eyes. “I’m pleased I found you again, y’know? I wouldn’t have been pleased if the only time I’d seen you was when you were a kit.”
The breath that I was taking caught in my throat. She really cared about me, I knew that – and I couldn’t deny that secretly, I cared about her too.
“I’m pleased I found you too,” I replied, a purr breaking in my throat. For once… I knew that finding my family was a decision I wouldn’t have regretted.
And no matter how impossible I thought it would be when I first started, I’d done it.
Epilogue ~ This Is Who I Am
“I’ll visit once in a while, okay?”
My nose brushed Scorchflame’s as she, Flashdusk and I stood by the ScorchClan border. We were there because Flashdusk had finally decided to return to the Clan… and so had Scorchflame herself. Now that she’d revealed the truth about what she’d done, she’d wanted to get back to her Clan, and the life she’d known since she was born.
I, meanwhile, wouldn’t be joining them. I knew that Clan life was something that wasn’t me, and something I wasn’t keen on pursuing.
“Okay,” my mother replied, in a whisper. “We’ll figure something out.” The gray-and-ginger cat pulled away from me, and straightened herself up as she looked at Flashdusk. “Let’s go back then, shall we?”
Flashdusk dipped her head in a nod, the tortoiseshell’s fur fluffed up. “Yeah, might as well.” She hesitated, looking happy yet upset at the same time. “See ya, Hirondelle.”
Scorchflame nodded back at the amber-eyed cat, before turning back to me. “…Farewell for now, Hirondelle… we’ll talk again soon, hopefully.”
“See you,” I mewed, a hint of sadness in my voice as I waved my tail. Both of them waved their tails back, before turning around and padding into ScorchClan territory.
I stayed there and watched them leave. I didn’t shift my gaze from them until I couldn’t see them anymore, lost in the maze of trees. Once they were gone, I turned around and padded deeper into loner and rogue territory.
There was something that I had to do.
“We haven’t seen you in ages!”
Nuage’s delighted voice rang in my ears as the gray tabby cat came towards me, eyes shining. Her brother followed her, looking calmer than she was: Regen’s yellow eyes shone as he looked at me. “Good to see you.”
I dipped my head. “It’s good to see you, too,” I mewed, as my gaze flickered across a blue-silver pelt nearby. Kereru was there: looking older and more frail than when I last saw her, but pleased nonetheless.
“Did you achieve what you wanted to do?” the elderly she-cat mewed, eyes showing a mix of emotions.
Behind me, I saw my adopted siblings giving themselves confused looks: I ignored their glares and nodded at Kereru. “Yes, I found out who they are.”
At this, Nuage seemed to click with what was going on: her gaze brightened. “Did you find out your real parents?” she mewed noisily, causing Regen to shoot his sister a look.
I nodded again. “Yeah, I found out who they are.”
Nuage bounced on her paws in excitement, looking excited as always. “That’s so cool! Who are they? Who are they?” Even though she was an adult, Nuage still had the attitude of a kit at times, and was always eager.
Should I really say it? Knowing the truth about my family – and notably my father – I was tempted not to say anything. However the other half of me knew that it would be nice for my adopted family to know who I really was. That factor was what I decided to make my decision on.
“Fine, I’ll tell what happened.” Padding over to Kereru and sitting down near her, I curled my tail around my paws as Regen and Nuage joined the two of us. I inhaled, then waited as my breath went out again, almost ready to speak.
“When you’re ready to say it, go for it,” Kereru reassured me, her eyes bring across how she felt. “I won’t judge you for who you are. Just… say what you want, what you need.”
Her words reassured me, and I relaxed as Nuage and Regen nodded their agreement. So with that, I started on what I knew would be a long explanation of how I managed to find out my biological family.
“So one day, I was wandering through loner and rogue territory…”
I think as the story went on, I got more motivated to write this, and it was good for me to finally get the writing bug that I hadn't been able to find for a while back :D. I'm definitely feeling more motivated by writing again (well at least for the meanwhile!), so yeah, it's been good getting it back by writing this :P
I might write a side-story to this about Scorchflame, and what happened to her around the time when she was expecting Hirondelle (i.e. after Tigerheart left) and that sort of thing. I haven't decided fully on it, but we'll see! ^.^ If I do, the title'll likely be Scorchflame's Heartbreak, but I'll figure out a final title if and when I do it. :D
yeah I don't have much else to comment on this
Thanks for reading this, and you are welcome to comment (if you do, constructive critism please). :D
Until next time,