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?


34. Amber Eyes

"Frostflight!" Snowhawk yowled. She turned towards him, and panic gleamed in her eyes, as she quickly turned back to the tansy plant and gulped down another mouthful of leaves. Snowhawk sprang forward, knocking her away from the bush. She struggled underneath his paws, before running out of energy and flopping weakly to the ground. She stared up at him, making the first eye contact in moons.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, and her eyes closed. She simply went limp, waiting for the tansy to begin its work.

"No," Snowhawk mewed. "No! Frostflight just stay here, okay? I'll find some yew or…yarrow, or something! You'll throw it all up and you'll be okay, alright? Your kits will be fine, everything will be fine…." But as he felt Frostflight's stomach rumble beneath him, he knew it wouldn't be alright. The chewed up plant told him she had attempted to eat the entire thing; there was too much for her to throw up. And even if she did, even if she and her kits lived…nothing would ever be fine between them again.

Snowhawk looked around, desperate to do anything, to find anything that could help. There was yarrow nearby, he knew; if he could just reach it, then maybe….

"Wait here, just wait," Snowhawk meowed, and began padding towards the clump of yarrow, only to feel Frostflight's paws hold his tail down.

"No," Frostflight murmured, her eyes looking glassy as she stared at him. "I have to, Snowhawk, I can't live like this anymore…with this….They're inside me and I hate them, Snowhawk! I hate them, I hate what they're doing to you, I hate what he did to me, I hate them…."

She let out a low moan of pain, and Snowhawk rushed to his side. He couldn't get the tansy out of her system, but maybe if he just stayed by her side, if he didn't let her go, he could just keep her alive through sheer force of will….

"He who?" Snowhawk whispered. "He did what to you?"

"I…." Frostflight's voice trembled, and Snowhawk buried his muzzle in her fur.

"Stay with me, okay? Just focus, just keep your eyes open. We'll get through this," Snowhawk meowed. "You'll be fine, okay? I don't care about the kits, Frostflight, I still love you. Have a million kits with any tom you want, I don't care, just don't leave me…." His throat closed, choking him.

"Didn't…want to," Frostflight's breath was coming in quick pants as the tansy began working, as the stress of everything made her sides heave. "Not my choice…he….Cricketsong was dead, and I wanted to sit vigil like a warrior…but I couldn't look at his body, it hurt too much…went out of camp, fresh air…and then he was there, Snowhawk. He was coming after Batter, so angry…wanted to see how many of us were dead himself, with his eyes…amber eyes, in my dreams, always…amber eyes…." Her voice trailed off in a wail.

"Amber eyes?" Snowhawk whispered, and he flashed back to that night, with Cricketsong and Mudstripe lying dead on the ground, with Batter nearby…there had been no sentries, no cat keeping anyone from leaving. Frostflight had left camp to clear her head, clear the sorrow from her heart. And then he had been there, with his amber eyes….Snowhawk's heart suddenly went cold.

"Ruin?" he whispered, but Frostflight could only whimper.

"Nothing I could do," she wailed. "Powerless…." She let out a yowl of pain, and Snowhawk could feel her sides ripple; the tansy combined with the stress of her entire ordeal was making it all wrong, pushing Frostflight to the point of breaking. "On me…choking me, telling me to be quiet or I'd die…and then….I wish I had died!" she burst out, and the pain and anguish in her cry seemed to almost burn Snowhawk's paws. Snowhawk felt himself come alive with anger, almost shaking with fury.

"He…he did this to you!" Snowhawk snarled, as everything became clear; Frostflight's silence, her nervousness, her fear even when he touched her. "And these are his kits!"

Frostflight closed her eyes, and she seemed to lose all of her strength, and Snowhawk suddenly realized that there was nothing he could do. He was going to lose her.

Her sides rippled again, and the scent of blood hit Snowhawk's nose, but all he could do was bury his nose in her fur, drinking in her scent.

"Please, don't leave me," he begged. "Frostflight, I love you! I don't care about the warrior code, just please don't leave me. We can be together. We can pretend these are my kits, I don't care, just don't leave me here…I can't be without you!"

The scent of blood grew stronger in Snowhawk's nostrils, and when he opened his eyes, he saw the head of the first kit. Frostflight let out a moan as her sides heaved again, and the kit slid to the ground, limp, lifeless.

Too early, Snowhawk thought dimply. Too early for her kits, they can't survive yet…they're too young….

"Frostflight," Snowhawk whispered, and her eyes opened just a crack, just enough for him to see their beauty. She let out a gasp of pain as the second kit appeared and was born, limp and lifeless as the first. And then the third, and the blood began pooling around Frostflight, staining her beautiful fur crimson….

"There's too much blood," Snowhawk choked, as Frostflight let out another gasp of pain. This time no kit followed it, and Snowhawk realized it was over, for Frostflight and her kits.

"No, Frostflight, please," he whimpered. "Please, please, please…don't go!"

Frostflight's eyes opened wide, and she stared at Snowhawk. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I love you, Snowhawk. I love…you…." Her eyes drooped closed. Her body suddenly gave a shudder, and then she was still.

"No," Snowhawk mewed, and his legs crumpled beneath him, as he pressed his face against Frostflight. "No, StarClan, please! Don't do this…don't do this…don't take her…."

Snowhawk trembled with sorrow, and anger; if only he had been the one to kill Ruin, to feel his flesh give way between his claws! If only he had been sleeping with Frostflight and Rainfur, maybe he could have done something to stop all of this, anything…he would have done anything to save her from this….

Snowhawk's eyes opened slowly, and he turned his head, staring at the three lumps of fur that were Frostflight's kits. Two of them were black, but the third was white, just like its mother. As Snowhawk stared at them, feeling loss well up inside of him, he thought he saw movement from the white kit, just the tiniest twitch of a paw. Snowhawk rose to his paws slowly, padding towards the little white kit. Then, just as slowly, he licked it, and then licked it again, slowly licking off the membrane around it. And against his tongue, he felt the tiniest tremble of life.

Quickly, Snowhawk turned to the other two kits, but they were already dead. Only the white kit was alive, and as Snowhawk stared down at her, he thought he saw a glimpse of Frostflight in its white fur.

"You're the kit of a monster," he whispered down to the kit, and then looked at Frostflight's cooling body. "But you're the kit of the most beautiful warrior in the forest, too."

This kit had both the blood of Ruin and Frostflight inside of her; her white pelt hid all of Ruin's evil.

The Clan can never know of this, Snowhawk thought. They can't know that Frostflight did this, or what happened to her…I must keep it a secret.

Gently, he nudged the kit towards Frostflight's body; it would keep it warm for a few moments. Snowhawk scooped out earth nearby, creaking a grave for the two black kits. He gently laid them inside, and covered it with earth, before turning to Frostflight's body. He gently picked up the white kit in his jaws and turned away from Frostflight, padding back towards camp despite wanting nothing more than to race back and bury his nose in Frostflight's fur again, to drink in what remained of her scent and soak up her body heat. But he had to keep this kit alive; this kit was all that was left of Frostflight now.

As he entered camp with the kit of his jaws and the scent of Frostflight and her blood cloaked him, Snowhawk could feel the Clan's alarm. However, he ignored them, padding into the nursery and laying the kit down.

"Can you feed it?" Snowhawk asked, and he realized he was pleading to Littlewing. "Please, can you feed it?"

Littlewing simply stared at him with shock, and then her eyes dropped down to the kit. "Frostflight's?" she whispered. "What happened to her? Is she…?"

"She's dead," Snowhawk meowed, his voice flat so the pain wouldn't choke him again. "You know this is Ruin's; she probably told you, you two were very close. But you cannot tell anyone; I must claim that this kit is mine…for Frostflight's sake."

Littlewing's eyes clouded with pain. "I'll feed it, for her," she whispered, tucking the white kit against her belly, looking so tiny against Littlewing's own kits.

Snowhawk forced himself to tear his eyes away from the white kit. He padded out of the nursery.

"Frostflight, where is Frostflight?" Leafshine demanded, her green eyes wide. Snowhawk bowed his head, unable to meet her eyes, and Leafshine let out a wail of anguish.

"My kits, oh my kits, my kits," she howled. "StarClan has taken them all away!"

Windheart pressed his pelt against Leafshine, his eyes dark with sorrow. "How did this happen, Snowhawk?"

Snowhawk stared at Windheart, and then at the faces of the other cats, feeling numb. "She had a miscarriage," he rasped, feeling numb. "There was…there was nothing I could do to save her. She had three kits; two died, but the third is alive." He turned to Leafshine and Windheart. "You two have a grandchild. Littlewing is taking care of it now, but I don't think it will survive. It's too young…it was too soon."

Leafshine let out another wail, and Windheart bowed his head. Snowhawk stared at Lightningstar, feeling helpless and small again. It didn't matter how hard he trained, or what he learned; he couldn't stop StarClan from taking the only cat he had ever loved.

. . .

The entire Clan sat vigil for Frostflight that night; Snowhawk laid next to her body, his nose pressed against her fur. He didn't care what the Clan thought; he'd rather the Clan think that he had broken the warrior code, than them know the kit was Ruin's. He was finally putting his own wishes before his loyalty to StarClan…but now it was too late for Frostflight.

Against all odds, the kit made it through the night, although Snowhawk wasn't sure whether to be joyful or sad. He didn't know how to feel; everything seemed empty, knowing that Frostflight was gone. Still, when he gazed down at the little scrap of fur, he felt a stirring in his heart; this was Frostflight's kit.

"It's a girl," Littlewing said softly. Snowhawk blinked at her, and she flushed slightly. "I just thought you'd want to know," she meowed. Snowhawk blinked slowly, and then nodded.

"Thank you," he said, and then gave the kit the tiniest lick.

"Does she have a name?" Honeykit asked curiously. "Like us?"

Snowhawk smiled at the kit, and then stared down at the white she-cat. Honeykit, Featherkit, Crowkit and Ashkit are Ruin's kits too, he thought. And they've turned out okay, without any knowledge of their father. This kit can turn out well too.

"Cloudkit," he said finally. "That will be her name." So she can be close to her mother, like the clouds in the sky, he thought.

Littlewing smiled at him, and nudged the kit closer to her stomach with her tail. "It's a perfect name for her," she said softly, and then blinked down at little Cloudkit.

Snowhawk hesitated, and then kneeled to the ground, pressing his nose against Cloudkit's flank.

I couldn't save your mother, he thought, but I'll protect you. I'll always protect you.

. . .

"She isn't yours," Shadepaw mewed. Snowhawk looked up from his herbs, surprised.

"What?" he asked, although he had no doubt who she was talking about.

"Frostflight's kit. Cloudkit. She isn't yours." Shadepaw wasn't facing him. "I know you wouldn't lie to me. When you told me that you and Frostflight weren't together and that her kits weren't yours, I knew you meant it. So they aren't yours…which means they have to be someone else's, right? And you're letting the Clan think Cloudkit is yours, even though you gave up Frostflight to protect the warrior code for future generations. That was a huge sacrifice; you wouldn't give it up because Frostflight died. That means the truth has to be even worse than SnowClan's first medicine cat mating with a warrior. But what could be worse than that?" Shadepaw turned towards him, blinking slowly. Snowhawk looked away.

"I can't tell you," he meowed, his voice rough. Even the thought of what had happened to Frostflight, what Ruin had done to her, pained him. "I promised I wouldn't let the Clan find out."

Shadepaw let out a little purr. "I'm not the Clan. I'm just one cat." He felt her touch his flank. "You can trust me, Snowhawk."

He looked into her green eyes, and knew she was telling the truth. But still, he couldn't force the truth past his lips, as if saying it would make it true, unbreakable. As long as he didn't say it, maybe he would suddenly wake up and find that this was all a dream. Snowhawk's gaze dropped away again, and he felt Shadepaw sigh.

"You can't hide the truth forever," she mewed. "It always comes out somehow. You and I both know what the Clan doesn't; Frostflight ate the tansy. The rest of the Clan didn't know the plant, but we did. She tried to get rid of her kits, even though she knew it would cause a miscarriage and could end up killing her as well…she really didn't want them. If they were yours, she would have treasured them above her own life. If they were Clanborn, she wouldn't have done it." Shadepaw raised Snowhawk's muzzle with her tail, forcing him to look at her. "They're Ruin's, aren't they? Or one of his cats did it to her?"

Snowhawk's silence was all she needed for an answer, and she smiled sadly. "Once her eyes are open, the Clan will know," she said softly. "Blue eyes like yours are the rarest, and Frostflight had both a blue eye and a green eye. If the kit doesn't have blue or green eyes, the Clan will know the kits aren't yours. They'll know who the real father is. Ruin's eyes were unmistakable."

And suddenly, Snowhawk had another problem, something else to lose sleep over besides the fact that his love was dead. The only part of her that still remained would after all carry the marks of Ruin, in her eyes. The Clan would know, and what would they do then? They would cast Cloudkit out, surely; who could bear the taint of Ruin's blood in the Clan?

After that, Snowhawk began almost hovering around Cloudkit, watching her anxiously. Slowly, the pain of losing Frostflight began fading under the pain at the prospect of losing Cloudkit, although Frostflight stayed in the back of his mind. Watching the little white kit sniffle and snuffle, drinking from Littlewing and blindly exploring the den was like watching a little Frostflight; he could see Frostflight's spirit in her daughter. Every day he watched her grow bigger and stronger, that much closer to opening her eyes, and every day he was both glad for her to be growing, and sad because it meant she had that much less time with the Clan.

And then one day he came into the nursery only to find that Cloudkit's eyes were open, gleaming sky-blue, and his heart sank. All kits' eyes were blue when they first opened, and Cloudkit was still sightless; it was only when her eyes changed colors that she would truly be able to see.

Littlewing was fond of Cloudkit, making sure her own kits didn't hurt the little white scrap of fur. Littlewing's kits seemed fond of her as well, although that was probably because they were half siblings, even if Littlewing and Snowhawk were the only ones that knew it. Featherkit was happy to have a playmate that was roughly her size, and she and Cloudkit soon became good friends, even though speech still eluded Cloudkit.

Day by day, the truth of Cloudkit's parentage slowly began to appear in her eyes, but it was as if Snowhawk was blind to it; when he looked at her, it was as if nothing had changed, as if her eyes were still blue. Perhaps he thought if he imagined her eyes were blue, they would become so, and he could somehow change Cloudkit's heritage through his own desperate need. And then one day when he entered the nursery and Cloudkit blinked up at him, it was as if he had been gone for a moon and suddenly returned to see his eyes glowing amber. His first thought was of how he had missed her eyes changing, how he had ignored it. His second was what he could do to protect her.

He stared down at Cloudkit, and she smiled up at him, nestling into his soft fur with a purr of contentment. Suddenly, Snowhawk scooped her up and pressed her against his chest, feeling her tiny life pounding against his paws, as his own heart thudded against her. Cloudkit's eyes were amber like her father's, and yet they held the same love and bright spirit that Frostflight's had always held. Snowhawk would not let her go.

"The Clan will figure it out soon," Littlewing said softly, hours later when the five kits had gone to sleep. "Leafshine visits often, but I think she's blind to it for now; she's not really seeing Cloudkit when she looks at her, she's seeing her little Frost."

Snowhawk stared down at Cloudkit, nestled between her half siblings. "I have to tell the Clan," he rasped. Littlewing blinked at him in alarm. "I promised I wouldn't let the truth be known, but that's beyond my power now. The Clan would rather hear it from me than to figure it out for themselves."

"Tell them about mine too," Littlewing said unexpectedly, and Snowhawk blinked at her with surprise. Her blue eyes were soft as she gazed down at her kits. "They'll be strong enough to come with me if we have to flee," she mewed, "but I have faith in the Clan, and so should you. You know they'd never cast out helpless kits, no matter who their father was. Frostflight told me you built this Clan with your own four paws, Snowhawk. Have a little faith in it."

Snowhawk stared at her, wondering how the cream queen had suddenly become more faithful to the Clan than to Snowhawk himself. He had blocked them out since Frostflight died, not wanting to talk or interact with them, only wanting to hide in his misery and watch Cloudkit grow up. But Littlewing was right; SnowClan would never turn kits away, no matter their parentage, especially knowing how it would hurt fragile Snowhawk now.

"I will," Snowhawk said, rising to his paws. Littlewing nodded, and Snowhawk padded out of the den. The Clan's curious eyes followed him as he ascended the StonePile; some gazes were almost expectant, as if they were expecting for Snowhawk to admit to loving Frostflight and having kits with her. Only Shadepaw looked worried.

"SnowClan," Snowhawk rasped, "I have been hiding something from you. Several things, in fact." He glanced towards the nursery, and saw that Littlewing had woken the kits and nudged them towards the nursery; it was important for them to know their parentage as well.

"Cloudkit is not my daughter," Snowhawk announced, feeling his voice ring out. The Clan stared at him with surprise, and Snowhawk kneaded the stone with his claws. "Look at her now, and look at Littlewing's kits as well, for they share a father. Littlewing was used by Ruin for pleasure during his time here; two of her kits are marked by his eyes. Cloudkit was also fathered by Ruin."

He could feel the Clan's gasps, could almost smell their shock in the air. "Frostflight went out during the night of Cricketsong's death," he continued, feeling numb as the truth slid off of his tongue. "She wanted to sit vigil for her brother like a warrior, but couldn't bear seeing his body. She wanted clarity, peace, some sort of reasoning as to why her brother had died. What she found…was Ruin. He was coming after Batter to make sure we didn't hear the news of his forces lessening, and also to see how many of us were dead, but when he discovered Frostflight, he couldn't hold himself back. Littlewing was the only queen in camp after all, and while she held Ruin's kits she was too precious to use. So he…he used Frostflight." Fury flashed inside of Snowhawk, but he forced himself to keep a level tone. "Frostflight was too ashamed to speak; she didn't even tell me. As many of you probably know, I loved her. But I chose the warrior code over my love for her, to preserve it for the next medicine cat…and for those that would come after. Cloudkit is not my kit, although I would have wished she was. I was present when Frostflight had her miscarriage, but I could do nothing; she bore three kits, two of which carried their father's pelt. They were both stillborn, but by some miracle Cloudkit survived. I thought I could pass her off as my own daughter, rather than tarnish Frostflight's image or hurt Cloudkit's change at becoming one of us…but as you can see, her father still holds a grip on her. She bears his eyes."

The Clan turned almost as one cat towards Littlewing's kits. Littlewing's ears flattened, but she remained firm, raising her chin and refusing to back down from the Clan's stares.

"It's understandable for you to hold some sort of grudge against Ruin, after all he has done to us…but these are the mother's kits too. Littlewing is a gentle cat that I believe belongs here, and Frostflight…I loved her. She was the most beautiful, loyal cat I ever knew, and Cloudkit carries just as much of Frostflight as she does of Ruin."

Snowhawk stopped speaking, unable and unwilling to continue. He simply stared into the crowd of cats, feeling dull and battered.

A gentle touch on his flank startled him, and he found that Lightningstar had come to stand beside him.

"SnowClan, this is shocking news to us all," Lightningstar rumbled. "Littlewing's kits and Cloudkit need our protection, for now. However, these kits should not live in a place where they are not wanted or respected. If you think we should cast them out because of Ruin's blood in them, we shall do so. However, if you believe they deserve a chance to live here and become warriors…we shall do that too, and welcome them into our Clan." Lightningstar raised his chin. "I for one, would have them stay."

Snowhawk simply nodded mutely; the Clan knew how he felt.

For a moment, no cat spoke, until Littlewing raised her voice.

"My kits are not Clanborn, but they are no less Clan cats than any other cat here," she meowed. "All of you came from places that were not Clans either, save for Snowhawk. If you learned to become warriors, then so can my kits."

"I bear no love for Ruin," Windheart growled, "but that doesn't mean his kits aren't worthy of staying here as well. Frostflight was my daughter, and I loved her; I'd like the time to love my granddaughter as well, no matter who was the father."

This news rippled over the Clan, but no one commented, as shocked as they were to hear the truth of Frostflight's death and the kits' parentage.

"Frostflight was my daughter," Leafshine mewed, her voice tight with pain. "I've lost all three of my kits…I can't lose another, even if the kit isn't mine."

"Every kit is unique, and every kit deserves the right to live as they please," soft-spoken Breezefeather meowed, surprising Snowhawk with the fierceness he felt from her. "They should stay."

"I want my kits to have play-mates," Fernstep said. "No matter who the father is, I've been in the nursery a lot recently observing how I'm going to spend the next seven moons. Littlewing's kits are as good as any other, and Cloudkit is one of us."

Stoneclaw licked her shoulder, silently agreeing with his mate; Snowhawk could see the love in the older tom's eyes as he gazed at Fernstep's round belly.

"I was a kit adopted by the Clan too," Nightpaw growled. "I'm glad I came to live here, and I know Angel was too. We should let the kits stay."

Mossflower wrapped her tail around Sorrelpaw and Willowpaw. "I would never cast a kit out of the Clan, no matter where they came from," she said, and she met Snowhawk's gaze firmly; Snowhawk owed his life to Mossflower and her generosity in adopting him.

"We need all the warriors we can get!" Sorrelpaw piped up, and her shy sister simply nodded.

"I guessed this, but I never wanted to say anything until Snowhawk was ready," Shadepaw announced. "It takes courage for him to tell us, and I know how much Cloudkit means to him. I vote they all stay."

Lightningstar smiled at his Clan, and Snowhawk could feel his pride. Lightningstar turned to Littlewing. "It is decided!" Lightningstar rumbled, sounding like thunder crashing overhead. "Littlewing and her kits will stay, as will Cloudkit, for a Clan should not take into consideration the parentage of kits, but rather what the kits themselves become. Perhaps they will follow their father's pawsteps, but perhaps not; only time will tell, and SnowClan must never taint itself by breaking the warrior code, and refusing kits the help they need. If when the kits are older, they decide to leave as Angel and Rainfur did, so be it; but until that day, each kit has its place in SnowClan!"

The Clan yowled in approval, and Snowhawk almost felt as if he would collapse. He stared at Cloudkit unbelievingly; she could stay, she could train, she could become a warrior under his watchful eye, they could share days together, he could tell her about her mother….

Sudden happiness and hope flared in his chest, catching Snowhawk by surprise; he had almost forgotten what happiness had felt like.

He quickly padded down from the StonePile, towards Cloudkit. He licked her head and she smiled at him, but seemed confused. Snowhawk realized she had probably never heard of Frostflight's name spoken out loud, or hr father's.

Snowhawk smiled sadly, and blinked at all five kits. "Ruin was the leader of Twolegplace, somewhere near here," he explained. "He was a cold and ruthless cat who eventually decided he wanted to take the forest away from us. We managed to fight him off in a great battle, and he was killed. Littlewing is not your mother, Cloudkit; your mother was a beautiful cat named Frostflight. She and I were in love, but I am a medicine and could not have a mate. Ruin did something very bad to your mother, and made you in her belly. Something went wrong during her kitting and she died, leaving you alive. Littlewing is taking care of you as you grow, but you are not her daughter."

"SnowClan will still love you," Littlewing told all five kits, and smiled at Cloudkit, "and I still love you too, even though you aren't mine. Ruin was a bad cat, but your mother was a very good one; she and I were close friends. SnowClan will never think badly of you, Cloudkit, for your father, nor will they think badly of any of the rest of you. They all voted for you to stay, every single one of them."

The five kits nodded solemnly, but Snowhawk wasn't quite sure they understood; it was alright, though, they would understand in time. He wrapped his tail around Cloudkit, smiling at her.

"Your mother and father are both gone, but if things could have been different you would have been my daughter," he informed Cloudkit. "I loved your mother very much, and although you are not my daughter by birth, I still…I still love you too, for all of Frostflight that you hold in you."

Cloudkit smiled up at him, and Snowhawk thought he saw a flicker of understanding in her warm amber eyes, as she buried her face in his soft fur. And then, he thought he caught the faintest rumble of a word that Cloudkit couldn't quite form on her own,


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