Snatched: The Story of Snowkit

Snowkit was always assumed dead by ThunderClan. But what if he wasn't? What if StarClan took him away from the Clan that would have never given him a chance? What if he had a greater destiny than anyone in ThunderClan could have believed?


32. Aftermath

"Will you be my battle partner?" Snowhawk asked, flicking his tail at the other cats, who were all paired up. Hedge grinned at him brightly.

"I'll be whatever you want," she purred, unsheathing her claws. "Let's go!"

Together, they launched themselves back into the battle, clawing their way through Ruin's warriors. Snowhawk fought as if StarClan was guiding his paws, scoring blow after blow on his unlucky enemies.

"For SnowClan!" he felt himself yowl, echoing through his body, and he could have sworn he felt the others echoing his cry themselves.

Hedge fought with much ferocity for a kittypet, although it was clear she still had much to learn. She was soon supporting several deep gashes herself, but to her credit she did not halt.

Frostflight was wrong, all those moons ago, Snowhawk thought. Hedge does have the heart of the warrior. Maybe jealousy just blinded her to it….

Hedge's attention was caught by something, and Snowhawk followed her turn of the head. His eyes widened as he saw Lightningstar and Windheart racing together through the battlefield, clawing down any cat in their path. Their eyes were locked on an enemy that Snowhawk couldn't see, although as Ruin's cats began to falter and break apart rather than face the two golden toms, their target soon became visible: Ruin.

The dark tom was sitting on a high rock, simply waiting and watching the battle. He was watching Frostflight fight, a greedy smile curling his muzzle. Anger blazed inside of Snowhawk at the look in Ruin's eyes, but Snowhawk was too far away to do anything.

Lightningstar and Windheart, however, were not. Ruin finally saw them coming, and there was no hiding the fear in his eyes as the two toms sprang at him. Ruin evaded Windheart's attack, ducking, and then came up to slice Lightningstar as the golden leader flew over him, scoring a long, thick cut down Lightningstar's belly. Lightningstar collapsed in a heap on the ground, blood streaming from his wounds. It was fatal, Snowhawk knew; Lightningstar would lose his first life.

Ruin was smirking at Lightningstar, distracted and unprepared for Windheart's second attack. The blue-eyed warrior tackled Ruin, knocking him right off of the rock and out of sight. His heart clenched in fear, Snowhawk wanted to race to their sides, but a wave of Ruin's warriors was coming towards him and Hedge. Snowhawk tore his eyes away from Lightningstar's fallen body, returning his attention to the warriors racing towards them. Snowhawk tensed, feeling as if fire was rippling through his veins. He had to get to Lightningstar and Windheart!

Snowhawk dove forward, slashing all the way down a gray warrior's side, hitting the ground running. He stopped fighting, resorting to simply ducking or leaping over the enemies in front of him, as he struggled through the mass of cats. The rock grew closer and closer, and he could see Lightningstar getting to his paws slowly. Lightningstar tensed, leaping on top of the rock and looking down. A savage smile curled his muzzle, and Lightningstar threw his head back roaring like a lion. Snowhawk's eyes widened as he saw the words form on Lightningstar's lips,

"Ruin has fallen!"

It was as if the battle had been frozen in time. Warriors stopped mid-swipe to turn and stare at Lightningstar. Disbelief and horror shone in the eyes of Ruin's followers. And then, suddenly, they began to flee. Like the tide going out, a flood of cats roared forward, their pawsteps seeming to shake the earth, disappearing into the forest leaving only the dead and wounded behind. Snowhawk saw Rainfur and Frostflight on their heels, snapping at them and chasing them off. And then came the victory cry, welling up inside of Snowhawk from his paws. SnowClan cheered to the heavens, yowling and daring any other cat to come and challenge them for their home. Looking around, Snowhawk could see that Lune and his reinforcements had come just in time; every cat of SnowClan was alive, although many were injured. Snowhawk turned, padding towards the rock. Windheart stood over Ruin's body, bleeding from several deep gashes in his chest and stomach, but he was alive. Ruin's eyes were dull and glassy, his mouth still twisted with hatred.

Where will he go? Snowhawk wondered. TwoClan was a Clan, in the loosest sense of the word. They can't make it to StarClan, that much is certain…so, then, where did they end up?

Snowhawk looked up at Lightningstar, magnificent against the sunlight, looking like a lion despite his wounds.

"We did it," Lightningstar said, looking down at Snowhawk. He padded down the blood-stained stone, and pressed his muzzle to Snowhawk's shoulder. "We did it."

. . .

"You're fine," Snowhawk said to Rainfur. "Nothing serious. Take a poppy seed on your way out."

Rainfur nodded, and left the den. Frostflight came in next. Snowhawk conducted a quick search, his keen paws sorting through her fur for every injury. He reached for cobwebs, and had then put in his paw by Hedge. The black she-cat was lying on her side because of an injury to her shoulder, but her eyes sparkled as she handed Snowhawk the herbs, and Snowhawk knew this was where Hedge belonged.

Snowhawk placed the marigold-soaked cobwebs on Frostflight's deepest wounds. "We need to talk, okay?" he asked softly. Frostflight simply nodded; her eyes still looked dull as she left the den.

"I think that's everyone," Snowhawk said finally, turning to Hedge. "You just rest for now, okay?"

"Whatever you say, boss," Hedge purred to him, and Snowhawk smiled as her eyes drooped closed. He padded out of the den.

The camp was strange, over-crowded. Lincoln seemed to take up an entire corner all by himself. His muzzle was coated in blood, but he seemed unharmed; his tongue lolled out of the side of his mouth, and his thick furry tail thumped against the ground. Snowhawk's piercing blue gaze searched the camp for one cat in particular, finding him with Wander near Lightningstar's den.

"Hey," Snowhawk said, padding over to them. Lune turned towards him, his golden eyes cool.


Snowhawk flicked his tail towards the camp entrance. "Let's talk."

Lune rose to his paws, padding out of camp. Snowhawk glanced at Wander, who smiled at him, before following Lune.

"What is it?" Lune asked, as Snowhawk matched his pace.

"I don't understand," Snowhawk meowed. "Why?"

"Why what?" Lune didn't look at him.

"Why did you come back for us? Why did you go to the city? Why did you come and warn us, even though you knew we wouldn't believe you? Why…why didn't you kill Fear?"

Lune stopped walked, and closed his eyes. "I…I loved her," he whispered. Snowhawk blinked in surprise.

"I was sent as a spy by Ruin; he thought Fear would win the battle between your group and hers, and he wanted to take over the Pride so he could rule the forest," Lune meowed. "Ruin picked me especially for my charm; after so many crazies, he knew Fear would feel lonely, want someone normal she could be with…romantically. At first, it was purely an act, but over time…she trusted me. She trusted all of us. Ruin never did. I didn't know what to do, I was conflicted, but I figured the battle wouldn't be fought for a long time; I thought I'd have more time to make my choice. Then, she ordered the final attack and you were gone, running into the city….Ah, you fools. Ruin knew the battle had been won when you fled. If you had gone anywhere else, he would have been none the wiser! But he knew, and I had to make my choice.

"I betrayed her. I almost killed her too, but I couldn't…I exiled her instead. But things fell apart without her, in ways I hadn't foreseen; they were so loyal to her. The Pride splintered. I went back to Ruin to tell him, but he had news too, news from Otter that your group wasn't running away after all, that you were coming back. You were our new foes. I wanted to go after Fear, but I didn't know where she had gone, and Ruin kept a close eye on me; he didn't trust me. Ruin planned the entire thing, Snowhawk, bringing in the disease to trick you and everything. Once he had Mudstripe's trust, that was the end.

"And then you came back, and you said that Fear had fled to the city, that she was dead, that it was my fault. The words haunted me. I had to know the truth. But there was no way to know, unless I left to find her. Doing that would betray Ruin, wouldn't it? But I didn't care. I was tired of it, all of it. So I came and told you his plans; you seemed to care for Fear, so in a twisted sense that put you as my ally. But you ran me off, which was understandable. I had no choice then, but to go to the city.

"And there I met Wander, and she knew me for the one who had betrayed Fear. It look a long time, but I convinced her that I was on Fear's side, and I told her what you had said. She said that Fear had disappeared, and that if you said she was dead, it must be so. That should have been the end of it…but there was still so much unfinished, I felt. Wander told me of your concern for Fear, the lack of ill feelings towards her that you held, and once again I saw that we were allies. So with Fear's help, I rounded up all the cats that would come with me, and well…." He shrugged. "Here we are."

"They're all returning home, you know, except for Hedge," Snowhawk said. "What about you? You could stay here, with us. You saved us; I'm sure Lightningstar would let you stay."

Lune shook his head. "I don't belong here. I…I was hoping that I could rebuild the Pride. I have a few ideas as where they might have gone, I can track them down. Whether they'll join me is another thing entirely, but I have to try."

Snowhawk nodded slowly. "I think I know a cat who can help," he said. "Lightkit…StarClan told me her destiny lay outside of the Clans. She's meant to be somewhere else, I think. She is supposed to rebuild the Pride. If she wants to go with you…."

Lune nodded. "I'll take her."

Snowhawk smiled at him, and the two of them padded back to camp.

. . .

The next day was a day of goodbyes, as Wander, Shaw and Lincoln headed back to Twolegplace. Lune was leaving as well, but he wouldn't say where his paws were leading him. And at Lune's side was little Lightkit.

"I want to come," she announced, much to the shock of the Clan.

"You can't go!" Nightpaw exclaimed, his eyes wide, and Snowhawk felt a pang of sympathy; Nightpaw had been very close to both Cricketsong and Lightkit.

Lightkit turned to him, with a sad smile on her face. "I'm simply not meant to be here," she said. "I'm different now, I've always been different. I came here for protection from Ruin, but he's dead; there's nothing holding me back now. I thought I could be a medicine apprentice…but Snowhawk's already found his."

She nodded towards Hedge, who smiled. "I just don't belong in the Clan," Lightkit said softly. "I think…I think I want to be known as Angel again."

Snowhawk padded up to her, resting his tail on her shoulder. "You'll always be welcome here in SnowClan," he mewed, and Angel smiled at him.

"I know," she said softly, and then padded towards Nightpaw, rubbing muzzles with him. "I'll really miss you, tiger," she purred. "Be a good warrior for me, okay? Be strong and loyal to your Clan."

"I will," Nightpaw said, his green eyes round and sorrowful. "Come visit, okay?"

Angel nodded, and padded to stand beside Lune. Lune dipped his head to the Clan.

"Tell Fear I'm sorry," he said to Snowhawk softly, before he and Angel padded away.

Snowhawk turned to Lightningstar. "I've felt uneasy, since we won the battle," he said. "Some of Ruin's wounded might have made it back to camp in hopes that the others would come back, or something; we should check camp to make sure there's no one there."

Lightningstar nodded slowly. "Frostflight, you'll come with us," he meowed, flicking his tail. "We'll leave right away."

Frostflight looked up from the mouse she had been picking at, and nodded. She rose to her paws, and followed Lightningstar and Snowhawk out of camp.

Snowhawk lifted his nose to the breeze, wincing slightly at the smell of blood that still hung heavily on the air. SnowClan had already buried Ruin's dead, including Ruin himself, although without any of the ceremonies given to a warrior. Still, the blood that had been shed in the battle had soaked deep within the earth; it might be a moon before the smell truly faded.

The battlefield was eerily still, dotted with small mounds where cats had been buried. The smell of blood still warded off most prey, except for a few curious swallows that Snowhawk saw in the trees, swooping down now and then to nibble at hidden worms in the grass. He shivered, and saw Frostflight do the same. Her eyes seemed to be drawn to the bloody stone, where Ruin had been buried. She suddenly began trembling. Snowhawk pressed his pelt against hers comfortingly, and she closed her eyes.

Lightningstar glanced at them questioningly. Snowhawk mouthed 'I don't know', and pressed his muzzle against Frostflight's shoulder. It took her several moments to calm herself, but once she did, her eyes were calmer than before.

"Thank you," she said softly. It was the first she had spoken since the day after Cricketsong died. Snowhawk smiled at her, and the group continued.

Snowhawk's pelt prickled as they neared what used to be Ruin's camp. His gaze swept over the camp anxiously, looking for any sign of life.

Then, a face, pale cream in one of the dens, looking at them pleadingly. Her eyes were a beautiful icy blue. Snowhawk nudged Lightningstar, and Lightningstar saw the she-cat as well. Her face bothered Snowhawk for a moment; it was familiar, but where had he seen it? Then, he remembered; this was Ruin's queen.

They approached her cautiously. She blinked at them, raw fear in her eyes. Her belly was painfully swollen with kits; it looked almost as if it might burst.

"Please," she whispered. "Help me."

Snowhawk held up his tail, telling Lightningstar and Frostflight to take a step back. Snowhawk approached her slowly.

"I'm a medicine cat," he told her gently. "Let me take a look."

She stared at him fearfully, but laid back down again, apparently lacking the strength to even keep her head up.

"I haven't been able to eat since the battle began," she said softly. "Ruin said food was only for the warriors…to keep their strength up…." Her eyes drooped closed. Snowhawk turned to Lightningstar and Frostflight.

"She needs food," he said. "One of you will have to catch something for her."

Lightningstar nodded and padded back into the forest. Frostflight stared at the queen with a strange look on her face, a mixture of pity and grimness.

Snowhawk turned back towards the queen. "Lightningstar will get you something to eat, and we'll take you back to our camp," he said. "We have to take care of kits, even if they aren't our own."

"That's part of that thing, isn't it?" the she-cat breathed. "The code?"

"The warrior code, yes," Snowhawk answered. "I'm assuming Ruin didn't exactly follow it, if he wouldn't even feed you."

"He did…to a point…." It was apparent that the she-cat was very weak. Snowhawk put his tail to her muzzle.

"Don't speak until Lightningstar gets back," he said. "You need all of your energy for when the kits come, okay?"

His only reply was a slight sigh, like a gentle breeze.

Snowhawk turned, feeling Lightningstar's heavy pawsteps approaching. In his jaws was a rabbit; it was thin thanks to the chill of leaf-bare, but it would do. He set it beside the cream she-cat. Her blue eyes opened, and she smiled as the scent reached her nostrils. Faster than Snowhawk would have thought possible, the she-cat began wolfing the prey down.

"Thank you," she said between gulps. "Thank you."

She finished the rabbit in minutes, laying her head on her paws with a soft moan as she did so.

"Something wrong?" Snowhawk enquired.

"Stomach…hurts," the she-cat murmured, and she moved to lick herself.

"Can you move? We should get you to our camp," Snowhawk said, but he didn't mean the words; he wanted to see how she reacted.

"Too tired," the she-cat replied, and Snowhawk's hunch was confirmed.

"Her kitting is going to begin very soon," Snowhawk told Lightningstar and Frostflight. "I need some leaves, thick glossy ones to soak up the blood."

Lightningstar nodded and took off once more, but Frostflight seemed frozen in place.

"Leaves!" Snowhawk said again, more forcefully, and Frostflight tore herself away, heading after Lightningstar.

By the time they returned, the she-cat was beginning to moan.

"There're overdue, and they'll want out quickly," Snowhawk said, pushing the leaves under her body. "This should be fast, okay? But they'll be big, and it will be painful. I just need you to be focused on me. Listen to my voice; whatever you do, don't close your eyes between kits; you're too fatigued. Understand?"

His only reply was a groan that turned into a yowl as her sides rippled.

"Give us some space," Snowhawk yowled to Lightningstar and Frostflight. Lightningstar nosed Frostflight out of the way, out of sight.

"Push!" Snowhawk ordered, as the she-cat's sides rippled again. Her claws were unsheathed, digging into the dirt as the rippling continued, going limp when it subsided. Three times more this happened while Snowhawk shouted encouragement, until the first kit's head appeared.

"I've got one, just push it out," Snowhawk meowed, and with a final rippling, the kit's wet body slipped out. Snowhawk began licking it quickly, rubbing its fur the wrong way to coax it to breath. He could feel it letting out a weak mew between his paws, finally, and he nudged it towards the she-cats stomach. Her sides were still moving quickly, and the second kit soon appeared and was born, followed by a third. Snowhawk licked them all and pushed them towards her belly, and waited tensely for what would surely be a final kit.

He saw something, then, that made his heart go cold; the fourth kit was coming out the wrong way.

What do I do? Snowhawk wondered with panic, as the she-cat let out a shriek louder than those before. The kit might die this way. Mossflower's one lost kit sprang into his mind, and he gritted his teeth. I'm not going to lose another one.

"Hurry, push!" Snowhawk yowled. "This one's stuck the wrong way. If we don't get it out of there in time, it will suffocate!"

The mother's eyes flared open for a moment, flashing with what Snowhawk thought was determination, before closing once more as she let out a last yowl, and the fourth kit came out, tail first. Snowhawk was licking it in an instant, only to feel his muzzle pushed to one side as the cream queen moved to lick her kit instead. It let out a trembling mewl, and she nudged it towards her belly, her eyes glowing with pride as she gazed down at her four suckling kits. Snowhawk let out a sigh of relief, feeling about ready to collapse himself.

"She made it!" he called to the others, before moving the bloody leaves out of the way with his paw, towards the entrance. Lightningstar's and Frostflight's faces appeared. Frostflight's eyes were wide as she stared at the kits.

"Ruin's?" she asked.

The cream queen blinked slowly, and her blue eyes darkened. She nodded.

Snowhawk glanced at Lightningstar, uncertain as how the golden tom would react. Would he still help the kits, even if they were of Ruin's blood?

"We should bring them back to camp," Lightningstar said finally. "They might not be safe here."

Snowhawk smiled, feeling a glow of pride; Lightningstar had made the right decision, by putting the warrior code before his own feelings.

"We won't tell any cat who the father is, though," Lightningstar continued, "as there might be negative feelings towards the kits because of it."

"What's your name?" Snowhawk asked the queen. She looked surprised to be questioned.

"My mother named me Wing," she said softly, "for my markings." Looking closer, Snowhawk understood; the queen's pelt had white markings, almost like feathers, along her back. "But Ruin and the others just called me Little Queen…Ruin liked me best. He's small, but I'm smaller than he was…it made him feel more powerful…." She closed her eyes, shuddering slightly.

"Littlewing," Snowhawk said. "That's what we'll call you; it's a warrior name, like you would have deserved."

The queen nodded slowly, and Snowhawk knew that she didn't care what he called her; names didn't mean anything to her now.

"Are you strong enough to carry a kit?" Snowhawk asked. Littlewing nodded hesitantly, and picked up one of her kits. Lightningstar and Frostflight both picked up a kit, while Snowhawk grabbed the last kit – the one born tail-first and the smallest of the litter – gently in his mouth.

Lightningstar flicked his tail to Littlewing, signaling for her to follow, and began padding into the forest. The others followed, although Snowhawk noticed they were going a different way than they had before, to avoid the battlefield for Littlewing's sake.

Snowhawk scented the camp through the milky scent of the kit in his jaws, and felt nervousness clutch his belly; how would the Clan react to Littlewing and her kits? Snowhawk hadn't really looked at the kits themselves, but if even one kit was black with a white paw, the Clan would know the kits were Ruin's, and they might be chased out of the Clan.

Mossflower blinked in surprise as she saw the kits in her mate's jaws. She was the first to greet them, sniffing them and then blinking warmly at Littlewing.

"I didn't know there were any queens in Ruin's Clan," she said. "Your kits are so young!"

Littlewing trembled slightly, and Snowhawk could see she was unnerved by the stares of the cats who had been her enemies only a few days before.

"She had them this morning," Snowhawk explained through a mouth full of fur. "We're taking them to the nursery, she'll be staying with us for a short time."

Snowhawk was relieved that there was no hesitation or fear from Mossflower for her kits' sakes, she simply nodded and flicked her tail.

"My kits can play with yours when they're old enough," was all Mossflower said.

They padded into the nursery, and set the kits down gently. Littlewing curled around them immediately, as they began to feel for her milk hungrily.

Sorrelkit and Willowkit watched curiously from the corner.

"Did we do that?" Sorrelkit asked, cocking her head to one side and watching with fascination.

"All kits do," Snowhawk purred, licking her ear. "You'll be able to play with them soon."

"I'm not so sure," Lightningstar said, gazing down at his two kits with pride. "I think these two are ready to become apprentices soon."

Sorrelkit let out an excited squeal, but Willowkit looked uneasy.

"We'll have to hunt and fight and stuff?" she asked, and Lightningstar nodded.

"You'll see how rewarding it is," he rumbled. "It's a good feeling to take care of your Clan. You'll be the first Clanborn apprentices, did you know that?"

Sorrelkit bounced on her paws eagerly, and Snowhawk couldn't help but smile. Sorrelkit would be a great warrior; she was already fearless. She and Willowkit had been timid around Lincoln at first, treating him almost like a god – which he sort of was, for even with Lune's help and the help of the other cats, it was truly the golden-brown beast who had helped turn the tide of battle – bringing him food and watching him almost all the time. Lincoln probably could have eaten a badger and still been hungry, and he could have easily eaten the kits together in one gulp, but Sorrelkit had regarded him with fascination, rather than fear. Sorrelkit had finally approached him, and even been unafraid when he reached down with his fox-long muzzle to sniff her, even when his hot breath had nearly knocked her over. She had blinked up at him curiously with her mother's green eyes, and then licked his nose gently with her little pink tongue. And then she had laughed when he returned the lick, sliming her entire head with his own huge tongue.

Snowhawk smiled at the memory, especially Willowkit's look of horror when she was certain her golden sister was about to be eaten, and had charged at Lincoln, only to be knocked down by his tongue as well. It was probably a good thing Lincoln was already gone; he might have been too excited by the new kits and stepped on them or accidentally injured them with his playfulness. Or, he might have smelled the scent of Ruin's Clan on Littlewing's fur, and thought she was an enemy. Snowhawk shuddered at the thought; Lincoln had displayed his fighting skills during the battle, and Snowhawk knew no cat could get on his bad side and live.

After checking Littlewing's kits again, Snowhawk left the den. Lightningstar was already on the StonePile, informing the Clan that Littlewing was going to stay with them for a short time, until her kits were old enough that they could be moved, if Littlewing chose to leave. Snowhawk was sure Littlewing would stay; with four kits to take care of, she could hardly take care of and provide for them all, and even if she wanted to leave, where would she go?

Frostflight was sitting by the fresh-kill pile, staring towards the nursery with a strange look on her face.

"Wanting your own?" Snowhawk asked with a smile, coming to sit beside her. She glanced at him, but said nothing. Snowhawk resting his tail on her side. "I wouldn't mind," he said softly. "I mean, if you really wanted them…and found someone you want to have them with. It would be okay, really. I mean, if we can't be together, it doesn't mean you shouldn't have them, right?"

Frostflight blinked at him slowly for a moment, and then shook her head. "I could never do that," she said softly, and then more softly still, so quietly that Snowhawk almost missed it, "willingly."

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