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?


20. Ceremony

Snowpaw opened his eyes, his pelt tingling with excitement. Today was the day! Today, he would access the Clan with Lightning! He could hardly wait to see the warriors. Snowpaw had been training hard to make sure he could keep up; he was confident he would be able to see the warriors at their best. Snowpaw quivered slightly, sending a ripple through his muscles, before rising to his paws and padding out of the den.

His back was still a little tender, it was true, but it was well enough that he could run through the forest, and perhaps jump over a fallen log or boulder if he truly had to. Snowpaw was too excited to care about any pain, though; he wanted to see how the Clan was coming along. The mentors had all been training the new warriors faithfully, although Snowpaw wasn't sure how Gale, Bree, and Otter had adapted to the warrior code. It was a big shift from their old way of life, Snowpaw knew, especially with Otter; in the city, Otter had everything he had needed with very little effort. Here, life was harder, but Snowpaw felt that it was much more rewarding than living near a stream and simply fishing to pass the time and fill his belly. He'd trade a dozen fish for a single taste of musky forest prey, anyway.

Snowpaw pointed his muzzle towards Lightning's den, clearing the distance in a few smooth strides. Lightning was in his den, curled up his nest and finishing off a thrush. He raised his broad head as Snowpaw entered.

"We should leave now, if we want to follow the dawn patrol, right?" Snowpaw asked. Lightning nodded his great tawny head, and rose to his paws. He and Snowpaw padded out of camp together, following the scent of the dawn patrol.

"Still no sign of the Pride?" Snowpaw inquired as he and Lightning trotted after the patrol. Lightning shook his head.

"As long as Fear doesn't return, I believe that we can hold our territory," he rumbled. "What remains of the Pride cannot hope to defeat us here, in our home."

Snowpaw nodded, and the two of them continued in silence, as the scents of the dawn patrol grew stronger. At least, Snowpaw could see them; Gale, Gleam, and Mud. Mud was clearly leading the patrol, with Gleam and Gale close behind. Snowpaw noticed that Gale and Gleam were not so distant from each other as they had been before; their strides were in sync, both of them moving at the same pace, although there was still roughly a tail-length between their bodies. Snowpaw blinked at Lightning questioningly, and he flicked his tail to indicate that they would follow for a short distance, before moving upwards. The patrol was nearing a river that marked the northernmost edge of the Clan's territory; they called it the Stone River, because of the many smooth stones that the river flowed over. Above the river was a slight slope without trees, covered in thick foliage. There Lightning and Snowpaw would follow the group, remaining unseen.

The patrol paused to mark a large oak and an ash tree beside the river, as well as a willow, before continuing on their way. Snowpaw climbed up the slope beside Lightning, feeling a slight sense of pride at the way the slope was no problem for him; he may have been out of commission for a while, but he was determined to come back stronger than ever.

Lightning and Snowpaw continued at the top of the hill, keeping pace with the patrol. Snowpaw was pleased to see that even though Gale's ear twitched at a water vole, he let it scamper into its den rather than hunt it for himself.

The patrol began nearing a stream that fed the river. A fallen log hung over it, and it was the only way to cross; the stream was longer than three rabbit jumps across, and more than two tail-lengths deep. It wasn't hard to navigate, but the patrol would rather keep their fur dry. Mud went over the log first, and Snowpaw felt Lightning purr as the tabby tom carefully inspected the log as he crossed, lest it prove weak and break under Gale's or Gleam's paws. It seemed to pass the test, for Mud sprang onto the opposite bank and beckoned the other two cats over with his tail. Gale padded half a tail-length in front of Gleam.

About half-way across, Gleam stumbled over a twig sticking up on the side of the log. She would have fallen in, were it not for Gale's quick action. He grabbed her by her scruff, hauling her back onto the log, nearly falling off himself in the process. Gleam glanced at Gale, and gave him a quick smile, before padding the rest of the way, her white fur ruffled with embarrassment. Gale followed with an amused smile.

"Good," Lightning murmured, and Snowpaw could feel the vibrations through his pelt.

The rest of the patrol passed without incident. Lightning and Snowpaw waited for several moments for the dawn patrol to arrive in camp, lest it look suspicious. To burn time, Lightning and Snowpaw both went hunting. Lightning came back with a wren, Snowpaw with a small mouse. The two of them entered camp, laying their kills on the pile before padding back to their respective dens.

There would be two more patrols, Snowpaw knew, but he and Lightning wouldn't be following the sunhigh patrol. They would follow the evening patrol, and perhaps a hunting patrol or two, to see how the apprentices and warriors hunted, and whether they brought food to the Clan first or not.

Waiting for the next patrol was making Snowpaw anxious, so he decided to seek Tabby out. He found her in the warrior's den, fast asleep; her nights had been busy, it seemed. Snowpaw's whiskers twitched at the thought.

"Tabby?" he asked softly, and Tabby uncurled, her head rising as she blinked sleepily. Her eyes lit up as she saw Snowpaw.

"Snowpaw!" she exclaimed, rubbing muzzles with him. "It's good to see you!" Her green eyes were dazzlingly bright as she gazed at him. "I never said thanks, did I?" she asked, and then licked his muzzle. "Thank you. For being with me that night, for talking with Slate…for everything."

Snowpaw flushed. "It was nothing," he mumbled. "You two belong together. Slate didn't need me to see that."

"This StarClan thing is real, then?" Tabby asked, and there was a note of pleading in her voice, pleading with Snowpaw to make it true; if StarClan wasn't real, Slate might pull away from her again.

"It's true," Snowpaw assured her. "A white cat from StarClan walks in my dreams. Or, at least, she used to."

Tabby's ears pricked in surprise. "Used to?"

"She says she can't anymore; we don't need her guidance right now. I mean, if I really needed her she'll probably come…and she'll visit Lightning's dream to give him nine lives, I guess."

Tabby looked even more interested. "When does he get those?"

Snowpaw shrugged. "Whenever the times is right, I suppose. StarClan doesn't tell me everything; I'm still learning, after all."

Tabby nodded slowly, considering his words. "Well, at any rate, thank you," she said, and gave him another nuzzle. "I'm going out on a hunting patrol later, with Cricketpaw, around sunhigh. Would you like to come?"

"No thanks," Snowpaw said quickly, "I'm going to be, um, busy."

Tabby shrugged, and yawned again. Realizing that she was still tired, Snowpaw quickly left the den, allowing her to return to her nap before her patrol.

"Tabby and Cricketpaw are going on a hunting patrol later," Snowpaw informed Lightning.

"Tell her to bring Otter too," Lightning said, "we need to see him in action still. For the dusk patrol, we need Bree, Frostpaw, Rainpaw, and one other warrior."

"Slate?" Snowpaw suggested, and Lightning nodded.

"I'll tell them," Snowpaw offered, and he left the den.

Snowpaw waited eagerly for sunhigh, but it wasn't until the sun was already a bit past its peak that Tabby emerged from her den, blinking sleepily. Snowpaw watched her intently, wanting to capture her every word perfectly.

"Cricketpaw," she called, beckoning him over with her tail, "we're going on a patrol. You too, Otter; Lightning's orders."

The brown warrior uncurled from where he had been resting in the shade. "Do I have to?"

"Yes," Tabby said sternly. "Lightning said so, and he's our leader."

Otter shrugged, rising to his paws lazily, with a slow flick of his tail. Tabby's eyes flashed, and Snowpaw realized that Tabby and Otter most definitely didn't get along.

Cricketpaw hurried towards his mentor, looking at Otter a little timidly.

"Can I come too?" Rainpaw asked eagerly.

"You're going out later, with the dusk patrol," Cricketpaw reminded his brother.

"I can go on both, can't I?" Rainpaw asked, with a glance at Otter.

"You'll be too tired; we don't want to overwork you," Tabby said.

"I won't be tired! I've slept a lot!" Rainpaw implored. "Please?"

"Sure you can," Otter said smoothly, "there's no harm in it. You're a tough one, you can do it."

Tabby's ear flicked, indicating irritation. "Lightning wants him to be rested for the dusk patrol," she repeated. Otter rolled his golden eyes dramatically.

"Whatever. Just save me something, will you, Rainpaw? This furball won't let me get anything to eat on patrol, I bet."

"We're supposed to feed the Clan first," Cricketpaw said timidly. Otter rolled his eyes again. Snowpaw frowned; this sort of behavior from Otter wasn't good for the Clan, and it definitely wasn't good for Rainpaw to think it was right. Warriors were supposed to hunt for the Clan first.

"Let's just go," Tabby said, and padded away. Cricketpaw followed closely on her heels, and after making a face at Tabby's back towards Rainpaw, Otter followed.

Snowpaw waited until they had disappeared, before he went to inform Lightning that they were gone. Lightning and Snowpaw waited a few minutes longer, before leaving the camp together. This time, there was no telling where the patrol would go, and finding high ground to watch from would be difficult, bordering on impossible. They were better off keeping a safe distance.

Snowpaw followed the scents keenly, picking up the scents of prey as well. Most of the prey had hidden while the patrol passed, but it was out in abundance now. Snowpaw's mouth filled with water at the thought of a juicy mouse, but he forced himself to swallow the water and force the thought away. He could wait until he returned to camp to have a snack.

They soon caught up to the patrol, in time to see Cricketpaw taking on a wren. The wren was on a low branch, and Cricketpaw had scaled the tree, his brown pelt allowing him to blend in. He was stalking it, moving ever so slowly towards his prey. Snowpaw's heart was in his mouth as he watched Cricketpaw get closer and closer. Tabby's gaze was intense as she stared up at her apprentice, willing for him to make the leap and secure the wren.

For a split second, Snowpaw forced himself to tear his gaze away from Cricketpaw, towards Otter. The brown warrior was slowly inching his way into the forest, and without warning he suddenly raced away. Snowpaw returned his eyes to Cricketpaw, only to see the wren spreading its wings.

Get it, Cricketpaw! It's still in range of a leap, and the ground isn't so far away! Snowpaw thought. Cricketpaw remained frozen, however, staring at the ground as his prey flew away.

Snowpaw glanced at Lightning, who was frowning, disappointment in his amber eyes.

"I'm sorry," Snowpaw read Cricketpaw's mouth-movements, "I froze up. I wasn't brave enough to make the leap." Cricketpaw climbed back down to the ground, branch by branch.

"Don't worry about it," Tabby said, licking his head. "You'll get it next time; it'll be warning all of its friends about you, though, I'm sure!"

Cricketpaw nodded, looking glum, and Snowpaw felt a pang of sympathy for his friend.

"Where's Otter gotten to now?" Tabby asked crossly, glancing around. "No matter; we don't need that furball anyway. Come on, Cricketpaw, I think there's a mouse hiding under those leaves." Tabby and Cricketpaw padded away together, and Snowpaw was torn as to whether to follow them, or Otter. He looked up to Lightning for guidance, and found Lightning's gaze directed at where Otter had disappeared to.

"I don't trust him," Lightning growled. "Let's follow him."

Snowpaw followed Lightning, keeping on the golden tabby's heels as they followed Otter's scent. It led them to a small stream, another one that fed into the Stone River. Otter was crouched on the river's edge, fixated on something.

"He's fishing," Snowpaw whispered. "Maybe he just didn't want to waste his time on forest prey; one fish can fill a cat for a day."

Lightning nodded, but he didn't take his amber eyes off of Otter.

Then, as quick as a bolt of Lightning, Otter's paws darted forward, flipping a silver fish onto the bank. He sprang upon it and killed it quickly, before giving a quick glance around the area to make sure no one was watching. Snowpaw's heart sank as Otter took a bite of the fish, and then reduced the fish to mere bones in a few minutes.

Lightning's muzzle had curled into a growl, and he looked ready to spring at the brown tom.

"Wait," Snowpaw warned, as Otter returned to the river. They waited in silence, until Otter flipped another fish onto the bank, killing it as well, but not eating it.

"He's still going to feed the Clan," Snowpaw said, "but he's feeding himself first." Snowpaw wasn't sure whether to be troubled or pleased. On one paw, Otter was at least attempting to feed the Clan, the best way he knew how. On the other, he had broken the warrior code by eating first, and he refused to learn how to catch forest prey.

"Come," Lightning said, flicking his tail. "Let us return to camp before the patrol; I think we've seen enough."

Snowpaw nodded, and he and Lightning padded back to camp together.

Snowpaw was exhausted, and after eating a mouse from the fresh-kill pile, he retired to his nest. He woke up to Lightning nudging him with one golden paw, feeling just as tired as he had the moment he had fallen asleep.

"We've got to watch the dusk patrol," Lightning rumbled. "They've already departed."

Snowpaw nodded, blinking blearily and struggling to his paws, following Lightning out of camp for a third time that day. They followed the scent of the dusk patrol as quickly as they could, catching up to them near an old pine tree. Frostpaw looked excited, bouncing around from marker to marker. Rainpaw looked almost bored, and it was clear he would rather be exploring or hunting with Otter. This gave Snowpaw an idea, and he made a note to tell Lightning of it later.

Bree seemed slightly nervous around Slate, and Snowpaw didn't blame her; he remembered feeling intimidated of the blue-gray warrior when he was a kit. He hoped that Bree would bond with the other cats; he didn't want her to just depend on Gale and the kits for comfort. The kits would be apprentices someday, and then warriors, and they might not want to be coddled by her any longer.

Snowpaw and Lightning followed the patrol closely, all the way around their territory. Rainpaw tried to catch a fish – to impress Otter, perhaps – but nearly fell into the swift-flowing water, saved only by Bree grabbing onto his tail with her teeth. Bree received a yowl and a growl from Rainpaw for her efforts, and she seemed to retreat inwardly again.

As if sensing Bree's nervousness, Frostpaw turned to the silver warrior instead of her own mentor, to chat to during the patrol. Snowpaw observed Bree visibly relax as Frostpaw chattered on, although Snowpaw had no idea what Frostpaw was telling Bree.

After awhile, Bree began talking back, and Snowpaw found himself smiling as he watched Bree unfold to the young white apprentice. Slate and Rainpaw both kept quiet, neither having much to say, and the patrol returned to camp without incident. Lightning and Snowpaw followed soon after.

"So?" Snowpaw asked, as they entered camp, "what do you think?"

"Gale is a compassionate cat, and well suited to being a warrior," Lightning said slowly. "Mud, Gleam, Tabby, and Slate have proven their loyalties a hundred times over. Bree seems hesitant, but she'll grow on the Clan gradually; Gleam was the same way when she first joined. Otter, though…he is the one that bothers me the most."

"He bothered me too," Snowpaw said with a nod. "But I do think he has potential." Snowpaw recalled his idea from earlier. "Otter is an excellent fisher, something that will be useful to us during leaf-bare," Snowpaw proclaimed. "The others aren't nearly as good; I think Otter should teach the apprentices how to fish, and maybe the other warriors too. The warriors should all be given their names tonight, save perhaps for him, but if he agrees to train the others then he should get his warrior name as well."

Lightning nodded slowly. "That sounds like a good plan," he rumbled, and then smiled. "I know Rainpaw won't object."

Snowpaw's whiskers twitched with amusement. "Should I ask Otter?"

Lightning considered the matter. "Let us name the warriors in the morning," he proposed. "You can ask Otter right before, so he won't brag and spoil the surprise for the others."

Snowpaw nodded slowly. "And we can think of names for them tonight."

Lightning smiled. "Exactly," he purred, and then sat down, motioning for Snowpaw to make himself comfortable. "Now, tell me then: how do cats get their names?"

Snowpaw awoke the next morning with his paws prickling. He was still sleeping in the medicine den, but he decided that this night, he would sleep with the apprentices again; it was long overdue, and he missed the feeling of their warm bodies against his…especially Frostpaw's.

His ears flattened slightly. Where had that thought come from? He wondered, feeling unnerved. Medicine cats weren't supposed to feel that way about their Clanmates, were they? It was forbidden to them, to know love and parenthood.

He shook himself, before padding out of the den, looking for Lightning. His pelt seemed to thrum with excitement, as he went over the names in his mind, each of them perfectly molded for the cat they would soon belong to. Some would hold a glimpse of their past name, others would not, but they would all belong to their warriors for the rest of their lives. It was a huge moment, a real turning point for the Clan.

And soon, Lightning must get his own name, Snowpaw thought. He must become a leader and earn his nine lives. Lightning had not received any dreams or signs from StarClan, much to Snowpaw's discomfort. A few times, the thought that StarClan was abandoning them had flitted through Snowpaw's mind, but he had always pushed it away firmly; StarClan had set his paws on this path, and he would see it to the end, whatever the end may be for him.

His head turned quickly as his eyes caught movement, but it was not Lightning coming to the StonePile, it was Frostpaw padding towards him.

"What's going on?" she asked suspiciously, putting her tail against his side. "You and Lightning were acting all weird yesterday, and the dawn patrol said they scented you two throughout the forest!"

"Nothing," Snowpaw said innocently, trying to ignore the warmth spreading through his fur at the sight of her white pelt, glistening slightly in the sunlight, looking beautiful against her mismatched eyes.

"Liar," Frostpaw growled playfully, crouching and ready to pounce. "Don't make me fight you! I was Froststar not too long ago, remember?"

"I remember," Snowpaw said, and he saw her in the moonlight, quivering with excitement at being crowned the leader of FrostClan. "I remember."

"Well, what's going on?" she demanded.

"You'll just have to wait and see," he said mysteriously. Frostpaw frowned at him.

"What kind of answer is that?"

"The kind where you'll find out the secret soon and love it," Snowpaw purred, and then his gaze moved away from her face as he saw Lightning striding forward, his pelt glowing in the morning light like flame. "Very soon."

Frostpaw followed his gaze, and saw Lightning climbing on top of the StonePile. "Is he calling a meeting?" she asked, puzzled. "Why?" She turned back to blink at him, and her eyes widened suddenly. "Is he…?"

"You'll see," Snowpaw purred, pressing his pelt against hers and feeling a tremor of warmth. "Come on, we have to listen."

"have to listen," Frostpaw reminded him with a twinkle in her eyes, and Snowpaw rolled his blue pair at her.

"Cats of my Clan, gather under the StonePile for a Clan meeting!" Lightning yowled. Cats appeared from their dens, padding forward with interest gleaming in their eyes. Rainpaw and Otter, who must have just returned from hunting, raced towards the fresh-kill pile to deposit their prey. Snowpaw murmured an "Excuse me," to Frostpaw, before padding towards Otter.

"Can I talk to you, really quickly?" Snowpaw asked. Otter blinked at him, looking amused. Snowpaw took this as a yes. "Lightning's about to give the Clan their warrior names," Snowpaw whispered, and Otter looked surprised. "However, he doesn't feel like you've earned yours," Snowpaw paused, and then hurried to continue at the look of anger flashing over Otter's face. "However, he'll name you a warrior of you agree to spend a few days teaching the rest of us to fish. It's something only you are really good at, and we could really use your knowledge." Otter looked pacified at the compliment, and he nodded. Snowpaw smiled, and then blinked up at Lightning, nodding to the golden tabby. Lightning smiled at Snowpaw, before beginning to speak.

"Today is a very important day for our Clan," Lightning began, speaking slowly so Snowpaw could read his words with ease. "Snowpaw tells me that when apprentices show they are ready to become warriors, they get warrior ceremonies. Our warriors were never apprentices, but that does not mean they should not get their own ceremony." He smiled, and his gaze swept over the cats. "Mud, come up here please."

Mud looked startled to have been chosen, but he rose to his paws, padding up the StonePile.

"I, Lightning, leader of this Clan, ask StarClan to look down on this cat. He has trained hard to learn your noble code, and I commend him to you as a warrior in his turn.

"Mud, to you promise to uphold the warrior code and protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life?"

Mud nodded without hesitation. "I do."

"Then, by the powers of StarClan, I give you your new name. Mud, from this day forward you will be known as Mudstripe. StarClan honors your courage and loyalty, and we welcome you as a full warrior of this Clan."

Lightning rested his head on Mudstripe's, just as Snowpaw had told him. He must have whispered to Mud something else, for Mudstripe licked Lightning's shoulder respectfully, before turning to go.

"Wait," Lightning said, and Mudstripe blinked slowly, pausing.

"I say these words before StarClan, so that they will hear and approve of my choice. Mudstripe, you will be the first deputy of our Clan."

Mudstripe's yellow eyes widened, and he seemed completely astonished.

"T-thank you," he stammered. "I will do my best."

Lightnign dipped his head, and Mudstripe padded down the StonePile. Snowpaw smiled to himself; if there was anything Mudstripe was known for, it was his fighting skills and his stripes.

"Slate," Lightning said next, and Slate became Stoneclaw, honored for his courage in battle.

Stone for his past name, claw for his fighting skills, Snowpaw thought, watching as his friends became warriors, one by one.

Tabby became Fernstep, for her energy and joy, something that she had not expected; her eyes glowed with happiness and pride at her new name.

Hers was the hardest, Snowpaw remembered. All her life, she had been known for her stripes…but not anymore. Now she can be known for the cat she really is; fern for her beautiful eyes, step for her bouncy, uplifting personality.

Gale became Windheart, for his loyalty and kindness to others.

Wind for his speed and the ruffled look to his fur, heart for his bravery and tenderness towards the kits and his Clan.

Bree became Breezefeather for her gentleness and loving care to others.

Bree for her old name and pelt, feather for her tabby markings.

Gleam became Leafshine for her mothering and love.

Leaf for her eyes, shine for her old name and for the image itself; leaves shining with dew, or glossy dock leaves soaking up the sun.

Otter became Ottertail for his swiftness and cunning.

A fitting name for any warrior, Snowpaw thought, let us hope that he will prove himself to be a true warrior in time.

And, finally, Moss ascended the StonePile, her eyes shining as she looked up at her mate, Lightning's eyes shining with love as he looked down on her.

"Do you promise to uphold the warrior code and protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life?" he murmured to her.

"I do," she said softly, her green eyes glowing.

"Then by the power of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. You will be known as Mossflower. StarClan honors your steadfast heart and love for others, and we welcome you as a full warrior of this Clan."

Mossflower licked Lightning's shoulder, and padded down the StonePile. Flower for her kind and loving nature, just like that golden queen back home, mother of Big and Ginger, Snowpaw recalled, feeling a glow in his chest as he remembered his old friends.

And, just like that, the warriors ceremony was over. Snowpaw glanced around, and then shouted, "Fernstep! Stoneclaw! Leafshine! Windheart! Breezefeather! Mudstripe! Ottertail! Mossflower!"

He chanted alone for only a few moments, before the other apprentices joined in, their voices ringing over the clearing. The new warriors were silent; Fernstep's joy was easy to see, Stoneclaw's face was as stoic as ever, Leafshine was beaming at her kits with pride, Windheart seemed surprised to hear his name ringing out, Breezefeather appeared embarrassed at all the attention, Mudstripe's gaze was already sweeping over camp as if preparing for his duties as deputies, Ottertail's golden eyes were glowing with ambition, and Mossflower was simply watching Snowpaw, beaming with pride.

Gradually the chanting died away, and the group began to rise to their paws as if to leave.

"Wait," Lightning rumbled, "there is more we must do."

Snowpaw blinked in surprise, feeling puzzled. What more was there to be done? He and Lightning hadn't planned anything else.

"Not every cat earned their warrior names today," Lightning said, "but some cats had Clan names long before we did. The Clan would like to honor Snowpaw, for leading us down the path to becoming a Clan. We would like to honor Frostpaw, Rainpaw, and Cricketpaw, the first true Clan cats; you four cannot receive your warrior names yet, but you are warriors at heart."

"Snowpaw! Frostpaw! Rainpaw! Cricketpaw!" the warriors chanted. Snowpaw looked at Frostpaw with pride; he could feel her purr through his fur. She smiled back at him, her eyes glowing with happiness.

"And as a final ceremony, we would like to give Kit and Angel their Clan names," Lightning continued. Snowpaw turned, spotting the two kits with Sorrelkit and Willowkit at the edge of the nursery.

"Come up here please," Lightning said, and the kits raced forward.

"Kit, you are a warrior at heart, and even though you will not be an apprentice for some time yet, you should have a Clan name," Lightning said. "You will be known as Nightkit."

Nightkit puffed out his chest with pride, straining to lick Lightning's shoulders as the warriors had done. He couldn't quite reach, and settled for one of Lightning's legs instead. Nightkit bounced down the StonePile, giving Angel a comforting stroke with his tail as he did so. Angel was trembling with fear as she padded up the Pile, stumbling a few times. When she made it to Lightning, she was quivering.

"Angel, you are a warrior at heart, even though you'll not be an apprentice for several moons. However, you should still have a Clan name." Lightning paused for a moment. "Your name will be Lightkit." Angel licked Lighting's leg as Nightkit had done, before hurrying down the StonePile towards her friends.

"Nightkit! Lightkit!" the Clan chanted. Nightkit basked in his new-found glory, but Lightkit looked positively terrified of the other cats.

Lightning stepped down from the StonePile, a sign that the ceremonies had been concluded. The Clan began breaking up, as cats went to talk to one another in small groups.

"That was amazing," Frostpaw whispered to Snowpaw. "What a good surprise! I'm so glad you didn't tell me."

Snowpaw let out a purr. "I knew you'd like it," he said, licking her ear affectionately. Cricketpaw smiled at Snowpaw, before rising to his paws to go congratulate Lightkit. Snowpaw nuzzled Frostpaw again, before bounding away to find Mossflower.

She was padding towards her kits, when Snowpaw ran into her from the side, nearly knocking her over.

"Snowpaw!" she purred, and her green eyes seemed to burn with an inner flame as she blinked down at him. "You've done so much, more than I ever thought possible for our group," she murmured, nuzzling him. "My new name is beautiful, thank you."

"We tried to make it perfect for you," Snowpaw said simply.

"Tabb—I mean Fernstep really likes her name too," Mossflower said. "You've made the entire Clan very happy."

"That's what I was put here for," Snowpaw said simply. "This is my destiny."

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