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?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5827181/1/Snatched-The-Story-of-Snowkit

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29. Destinies and Betrayal

The next morning, Snowhawk was awake bright and early, knowing that this would be the last full day he would spend with Frostpaw, for another two days. He dreaded the thought of leaving his Clan again after such a short time with them, but he really had no choice; he feared for Lightkit, and he needed answers, not only for what to do about Ruin, but about what to do with Frostpaw. He loved her, he was sure of it, but he was also sure that it was wrong for medicine cats to have mates. That was how it had always been; it was forbidden, the one true 'code' the medicine cats really had to follow. And like it or not, Snowhawk was a medicine cat; this was something he had been born to do.

He was out gathering herbs until sunhigh; he wouldn't be here to treat anyone if they were hurt, but Mossflower knew how to do that; she just didn't have the time to go looking, with her two bright kits. Sorrelkit and Willowkit were almost four moons, after all, and even though there were only two of them, it was bound to feel cramped in the nursery with Sorrelkit bouncing around. Willowkit had gotten better, as the warriors were sure to bring Mossflower and her kits food first. It made Snowhawk proud; they had come so far, this group, from a pawful of forest loners and city rogues to a strong, united Clan. Or at least mostly united; Ottertail was more loyal to Ruin than Lightningstar, that was plain to see, and Rainpaw's loyalties were still cleanly divided; he was going through a bit of rebellious stage, like young toms often did. And Mudstripe…Snowhawk had no idea where the dark tabby's loyalties laid.

Windheart and Leafshine were very close, Snowhawk noted; Frostpaw was right when she said she might have a father soon, although technically Windheart would already be her father, if she had only known it. It wasn't Snowhawk's place to tell, though; that was Leafshine's responsibility.

Cobwebs and herbs like marigold that would ward off infection were the most important, Snowhawk knew. Those were the herbs that would save lives while he was gone, especially if Ruin's Clan attacked early.

Snowhawk shoved the thought out of his mind. It wouldn't happen. Plenty of cats had looked at Ruin's camp and seen no extra warriors; if anything, Lune had seemed to disappear, at least; no one seemed to know where he had gone. The field where Ruin's warriors were supposedly hiding was actually closer to Ruin's side than Lightningstar's, and at the risk of stirring up conflict, Lightningstar didn't dare send warriors there to check, although Lightningstar was confident there were none; there wasn't enough prey in the field to feed an entire army, although Ruin's cats had probably gotten used to an empty belly.

A brush against his pelt made Snowhawk turn, and he blinked at Frostpaw.

"We've hardly had a moment alone, huh?" she asked quietly, looking down at her paws. "I missed you when you were gone. Like, a lot. Much more than Lightningstar…."

"I missed you too," Snowhawk had softly. "I think I dreamed about you a couple times, but you were always fading in my mind when I woke up…it was a bit lonely, huh? I kept seeing your eyes…."

Frostpaw laughed quietly. "My eyes? I hate them, they look so strange…I wish my eyes could be normal. Sometimes it's hard to hear behind me, because I only hear half the world…." She trailed off, and blushed. "Sorry, I shouldn't complain about hearing when you—" She broke off when Snowhawk touched his nose to hers.

"Your eyes are beautiful, unique. Just like you," Snowhawk rumbled; the words slid off of his tongue like rainwater; saying them just felt right, and he realized he'd been thinking them for a long time. How could he have not realized his feelings sooner?

"I love you," Frostpaw blurted, and then blushed further. "I mean, I know it's wrong…medicine cats can't have mates and I'm still an apprentice although I'll be a warrior in a moon…maybe sooner if I do well in the battle…but I can't help it, Snowhawk. I love you."

Snowhawk brushed his muzzle against hers, feeling a ripple of pleasure. "I love you too," he whispered, breathing in her sweet scent, like the first frost on a crisp leaf-fall morning. He could feel warmth under his pelt as they drew closer to each other, bodies entwining, locked together, two halves of the same whole. And then, just as suddenly, he felt a chill and pulled away. Frostpaw stared at him.

"Is something wrong?" she asked, a tremor in her voice. Snowhawk shook his head, trying to clear it. This felt right…but he knew it was wrong.

"I'm a medicine cat," he said, voice cracking slightly. "I can't."

"But I love you, you love me. Isn't it that simple?" Frostpaw stared at him with begging eyes, and Snowhawk had to look away.

"I wish it was," he said, and then, leaving the herbs on the ground, raced away into the brush without looking back.

StarClan, he thought, wanting to look over his shoulder or change direction, come running back to his waiting love, could you let me do this? Make this one decision for my own happiness instead of someone else's?

However, he knew the answer was no. He had created this Clan; he had brought them the warrior code. It would have been easy to leave the mate part out, but that would have been wrong, just as breaking it was wrong. He was the first medicine cat his Clan would ever have; could he corrupt that by taking a mate? All parts of the warrior code were important, but the no-mates part was perhaps the most important for a medicine cat. It was part of who he was, whether he liked it or not; it was necessary, it was important, and if he broke it now he would be dooming his Clan forever. 'Our first medicine cat didn't follow it,' they would say 'so why should I?' He carried the responsibility of all future medicine cats on his shoulders now, and he knew it. And as much as it broke his heart, as much as it made him want to scream up at the stars, he knew that one rule could not be broken, even at the cost of his own happiness.

He returned for the herbs later, but Frostpaw was not there. I have to tell her, he thought, and felt his heart clench. I can't lead her on, make her think we could be together. I love her too much to love her, if that even makes any sense….

He padded back to camp slowly, his paws feeling as if they had been filled with stones. Frostpaw was nowhere to be seen, but he could smell her in the apprentice den. He wanted to go to her, but he had to drop off his herbs in the medicine cat. He dropped his packet of herbs on the ground and began sorting them, marigold in one corner, cobwebs in another, and poppy seeds in a third. It was all he had time to gather. Lightkit was sleeping, and it seemed to Snowhawk that she looked peaceful, almost happy. Please, StarClan, tell me what I can do for her, Snowhawk thought.

Vibrations made him turn and pad to the entrance of the den; he blinked as Lightningstar stood atop the StonePile, clearly sharing news with the Clan. He saw looks of disbelief and anger ripple over the Clan, especially on Windheart's face, although some cats looked pleased – Mudstripe and his apprentice, Rainpaw. He's telling them we'll be joining with them, Snowhawk guessed. He has to, or else someone might accidentally let it slip and give us away, or protest during the meeting.

"Trust me," Lightningstar boomed, "I know what I'm doing when I make this decision."

"You're condemning us all to lives of servitude!" Windheart spat. "Breezefeather and I didn't come here to be Ruin's lowly subjects again!"

Lightningstar turned to Windheart coolly. "You can leave." Snowhawk blinked, thinking that Lightningstar had made a crucial mistake, but the golden tabby clearly knew Windheart better than Snowhawk did, for after a moment, Windheart looked away.

"I'm loyal to this Clan," Windheart growled, "and I won't desert it now, even though I think you're making a mistake."

"I thank you for your loyalty," Lightningstar said, and then flicked his tail. "Mudstripe and Snowhawk will accompany me to share the news."

"Can I come?" Rainpaw asked eagerly. Lightningstar glanced at him, and Snowhawk sensed a dilemma; he didn't have a reason for Rainpaw not to come, except that Rainpaw was too close to Ruin's Clan, but if they were becoming one Clan then that reason was no longer valid.

"No," Lightningstar said finally, "this is a meeting for high-ranking cats only. Once we are joined, however, there will be no reason why you cannot visit them."

Rainpaw's eyes lit up, and Snowhawk felt a stirring of pity for the apprentice. He was so eager to prove his worth, to become important and gain power, that he was blind to Ruin using him. It was like when Snowhawk had been choosing the leader of FrostClan, when Rainpaw had wanted to be the leader and gain his nine lives, intending to use them for the good of the Clan, but being sucked in by the possibility of power.

"Let us go," Lightningstar said to Mudstripe, and leaped off of the StonePile. Snowhawk rose to his paws to follow them. For a moment, he thought he saw a gleam of mismatched eyes in the apprentice den, but there was no time for him to speak with Frostpaw; he had to go.

He padded alongside Lightningstar on his left side, Mudstripe on his right, feeling the power of his position. He wasn't just a deaf little kit anymore, or a nervous apprentice. He was a medicine cat who walked with StarClan, who padded down the path they had set him on without fear. Ruin might attack the Clan if their plan failed, but even he wouldn't harm a medicine cat, for risk of angering StarClan. Snowhawk raised his chin proudly as they entered Ruin's camp. Ruin, laying in the entrance of his den eating the biggest mouse Snowhawk had ever seen, rose to his paws. The dark tom's pelt was sleek and healthy-looking, and muscles rippled smoothly under his pelt. There were none of the signs of hardship that haunted Lightningstar's Clan, or even some of Ruin's warriors. Ruin was clearly taking care of himself first, his Clan second. Snowhawk felt a prickle of anger. How could Ruin's warriors serve him this way?

Snowhawk swept his gaze over the camp, and saw with surprise that its size had increased; there was a single queen huddled in one of the dens, nearest to Ruin's. Snowhawk would have guessed she was Ruin's mate, but the way she looked at the black tom fearfully as he passed her suggested that she carried his kits only through necessity, not love.

"Lightningstar, Mudstripe, Snowhawk," Ruin greeted them. His cold amber eyes swept over their group quickly. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"We'd like to speak with you, in private," Lightningstar clarified. Ruin looked almost amused, but he nodded, flicked his tail, and padded back to his den. Snowhawk could feel the queen's eyes on his pelt as he passed her. What kind of life would she have had to lead, to think that being used by Ruin and carrying his kits was better than the one she had? Snowhawk wondered. I can understand the lure of this forest, but still…what a price to pay for a little prey to fill your belly.

"Well?" Ruin asked, sitting down in his den. He wrapped his tail around his paws, masking his single white paw.

"The half-moon is nearly here, but I've made my decision early," Lightningstar said slowly.

There was no masking the greed in Ruin's eyes. "And?"

"I think it would be most beneficial if our Clans combined, as you requested," Lightningstar said. "We have much to offer each other, I believe."

A chilling grin exposing his fangs lit up Ruin's face. "Indeed. And we shall rule together? As joint leaders?"

Lightningstar nodded. "I wanted to tell you this in private so we would not be overheard; as a leader, you get nine lives."

"So I've heard," Ruin said. From Rainpaw, Snowhawk thought bitterly.

"You have to speak with StarClan at a certain location," Lightningstar continued, and Ruin leaned forward eagerly. "There's a lake just to the north of here; that is where you must go. There is a long, hollow log that lays on the bank dipping into the water. You must lay on this log and lap up the water, and StarClan will take you away."

Ruin's eyes narrowed slightly. "That's over a day's journey," he said, and Snowhawk sensed a note of suspicion in his rumbles.

Lightningstar nodded. "It took us a long time to find the right place; that's why we were gone for a moon. We found it eventually, though, and as you know I have my nine lives."

Ruin flexed his claws, and Snowhawk wondered if Ruin was considering slitting Lightningstar's throat, just to see if he would come back from the dead.

"Good," Ruin said finally, and Snowhawk had to hold back a sigh of relief. "Allow me to alert my Clan. This is not a mistake, Lightningstar, I assure you; you'll be very glad you made the right choice." With that, Ruin brushed past them, towards his own place to address the Clan, a pile of rocks much like the StonePile. Ruin yowled, gathering his Clan together, but Snowhawk wasn't paying much attention; the day was over half over, and tomorrow he would have to leave the Clan to go to the tunnels and speak with StarClan. First, though, he had to speak to Frostpaw and make everything between them right.

A brush from Lightningstar's tail alerted Snowhawk, as Ruin finished his speech. Ruin's warriors were smiling and looking pleased, but Snowhawk could see the fear in their eyes, the knowledge that if they disagreed with their leader they would be killed as soon as Lightningstar left. Ruin truly ruled his Clan with a stone paw.

"So, to the northern lake, correct?" Ruin asked, and Lightningstar nodded. Ruin's eyes flashed. "Your decision was the best one any cat could make in your position," Ruin said, and there was no mistaking the threat hidden behind his amber eyes.

. . .

Lightningstar entered camp, keeping his head high despite the disproving looks of his warriors. Leafshine sat with her pelt pressed against Windheart, who was looking mutinous as if he was reconsidering his loyalty; however, Snowhawk felt certain that he wouldn't leave without Breezefeather, and she wouldn't leave without Nightpaw and Lightkit, who she cared for as if they were her own.

Snowhawk padded into the medicine cat den. "Everything's going well," he told Lightkit. "I should be able to speak with StarClan tomorrow night."

"Good," Lightkit said softly. "I hope they have an answer for you."

"Me too," Snowhawk meowed, turning his head to gaze out of the den. There wasn't much time in the day left, but he had to speak with Frostpaw. He couldn't just let her wonder while he ran off. Snowhawk steeled himself, and padded out of the den. Frostpaw was eating a rabbit, but she didn't look up as he sat down next to her.

"Nearly finished?" he asked. Frostpaw swallowed and hesitated for a moment, before mewing,

"Yeah."

Snowhawk smiled. "Want to come with me?"

Frostpaw looked up at him nervously, and shrugged, taking another bite of her rabbit. She finished it, and rose to her paws. Snowhawk flicked his tail, and led her out of camp. They walked side-by-side together, stride-for-stride, matching their speed effortlessly.

"Well?" Frostpaw asked, stopping and turning to Snowhawk finally. Her eyes were as cold as ice.

"I-I'm sorry," Snowhawk said, and his stomach clenched with the pain of what he had to say, "but we can't be together."

"You don't love me," Frostpaw said, stating it as if it was a fact.

"No, I do," Snowhawk meowed quickly. "Please don't think that I don't; I love you, Frostpaw, I've loved you for a long time now. And if things could be different…but they can't. I'm a medicine cat, I'm not allowed a mate, and if I break this rule, what are the chances that the medicine cat after me follows it? Or the next one? We can't take mates because we wouldn't be impartial in taking care of our Clanmates, we'd give our mates more attention, but that isn't the only reason. Upholding this law shows how much we're willing to give up for our faith and for our Clan; it shows how strong our Clan is, that we can make this sacrifice. It's part of who I am now, Frostpaw…." He trailed off, bowing his head, unable to continue. Then, he felt her tail touch his muzzle, as soft as a feather, and he slowly lifted his head to gaze into her eyes.

"I understand," she mewed, and he could feel her trembling. "I wish…." And she moved forward suddenly, resting her head against his chest and under his chin – when had he gotten so big, that she would be able to do that?- and sat there for a moment, soaking up his heartbeat, until she finally pulled away.

"You could find another mate," Snowhawk said softly. "There's no way we're getting out of this battle in one piece, we'll have to find more cats in the city or something, if we win...You could—"

"No," she growled, and he was surprised by the ferocity in her voice. "I won't turn my back on you, Snowhawk. It would hurt you too much, to see me with someone else, birthing his kits….I couldn't do that to you. And I don't want to. I'll never love anyone else." She raised her chin, and Snowhawk could see the strength in pride in her, and he found himself aching for her. I've found the most perfect she-cat in the world, and I can't have her? He thought, not quite sure who he was asking.

They sat there together for a moment, neither sure what to do, until they finally rose to their paws together. "I've got to gather some traveling herbs, I guess," Snowhawk murmured. Frostpaw nodded.

"I should probably get back too, or they'll wonder," she said. She turned to go, and Snowhawk turned the other way as well, and the two of them went their separate ways, each knowing the matter had been settled, each wishing that it hadn't.

. . .

Snowhawk awoke in the medicine cat den, blinking slowly at the fuzzy gray light touching the sky. It was the morning of the half-moon. He glanced at Lightkit, looking so tiny and fragile in her nest even though she was past apprenticing age. He frowned, and then licked Lightkit's ear in farewell, before chewing his travel herbs, not even bothering to grimace at the taste. Lightkit stirred slightly in her sleep, but did not wake, and like a ghost Snowhawk slipped out of camp.

He padded through the forest, tense, his mouth opened to catch every available scent, his ears swiveling as if to catch sounds even though they were useless, his eyes darting around to catch every movement in the thin brush.

The scent of Ruin's Clan assaulted his nose, and he frowned as he passed the border. It smells fresh…but if Ruin's Clan and Lightningstar's Clan are supposed to be one now, why would they refresh the border? Snowhawk wondered, before discarding the thought; one of the warriors had probably simply made a mistake, or simply not heard the news of the joining Clans.

Snowhawk encountered no warriors on his way, until he reached the North River; there, he scented Ruin's warriors, and quickly scaled a tree. He watched the warriors mark near the river, and as they neared the tree, he tensed. One of them even sniffed his tree and frowned, but none of the cats looked up, much to Snowhawk's relief. He waited until they disappeared from sight before climbing down and crossing the North River.

The river was running a little low, which wasn't surprising considering that it had not rained in some time. During leaf-bare it would rise as successions of snow fell and melted, but for now it was easy to cross.

Snowhawk looked up, squinting slightly, and saw the high ridge atop which the tunnels waited. They weren't visible from where he was, which explained why Ruin's Clan had never poked around in them. Snowhawk glanced over his shoulder and bounded up the ridge, aware of how easily his white pelt would give him away if any of Ruin's warriors stopped by to fish.

The tunnels came into view and Snowhawk entered them quickly, not wanting to be spotted by enemy eyes. Pressing his muzzle against the wall of the tunnel, he began padding down the tunnel as quickly as he could, looking up at each shaft of light he passed, knowing he only had so much time to get to the right part of the tunnel. How would he know which part was correct? If he could get to the right tunnel by sunhigh, he would be able to see the bright-rock-pool and tell where he needed to wait for moonhigh.

He padded for what felt like hours, all the while knowing sunhigh was slipping farther and farther away, as he passed more columns of light from above, peering up to see the sun's position. And then, with a sinking heart, he saw that the sun was well over the point of sunhigh. Now he might be simply marching through the tunnels blindly, even passing the shine-tunnel. His ears flattened, and for a moment, he considered stopping all together.

There was nothing to gain by giving up, however; he had to hope that somehow, he would find his destination. And so, he continued.

Snowhawk's paws were beginning to drag with weariness, when he suddenly felt something other than stone underneath his paws. It was slick, smooth against his tired paws. Snowhawk peered downward through the blackness, but could see nothing. On a hunch, he brushed his muzzle against the tunnel, feeling tiny chips of smooth stone in the wall. He smiled triumphantly; he had done it!

Snowhawk peered upwards, straining to see the sky. It was blue, but darker than before; the sun was setting and the moon was rising. When the halfmoon was directly over the hole, it would light up the smooth stone and surrounding chips, allowing him to sleep with StarClan.

Snowhawk made himself comfortable, and relaxed, waiting for StarClan.

. . .

He opened his eyes some time later, surprised to find that he had dozed off. He blinked slowly at the dazzling light of the stone slab. The moon was finally in the right position. Snowhawk wiggled slightly to get closer to the stone; undignified, but it was easiest. He pressed his nose to the cold stone, and closed his eyes.

When he opened them, he was in StarClan's forest. He smiled, before blinking slowly and glancing around. No one was there. Frowning, he padded forward, pushing through the thick brush and ignoring the brambles prodding him as he went.

"Again!" he heard a familiar voice growl. Fear, he thought, and padded forward more quickly. He stopped and blinked in surprise as he saw Fear circling a small, dark tabby. Who was she?

"Fear?" he called, and the chocolate she-cat turned, blinking with surprise as she saw Snowhawk. The apprentice turned towards Snowhawk as well. Snowhawk let out a hiss of surprise. For a moment, he could have sworn that the apprentice had no eyes, just bloody sockets. Then, she blinked, and sharp green eyes stared at him.

"We'll get back to it," Fear told the apprentice, who nodded and scurried off.

"Who was that?" Snowhawk asked curiously. Fear smiled.

"Just an old friend," she purred. "I've been meeting quite a few of them recently, some that I didn't even know I missed…." She shook her head slowly. "Why are you here?"

"A lot of things," Snowhawk said, and then glanced around. "Where's Snowfall?"

Fear shrugged. "Around here somewhere. What's the problem?"

"I don't know what to do about Lightkit, firstly," Snowhawk said. "She keeps having these visions, and I think they're tearing her apart on the inside. Is there anything you can do? Anything I can do?"

Fear considered it for a moment. "Her visions don't come from StarClan," Fear said finally, "They – we –wouldn't be so cruel. StarClan doesn't own all the skies, nor do we look down on all cats. Some portions of the sky are owned by others, although we often comingle. Those visions come from somewhere else, Snowhawk, and there's nothing we can do about them. I can tell you a few things, though: first, they'll pass in time. Second, she's being prepared for something much more than just a warrior or medicine cat. Third…her destiny might not lie in a Clan…or at least not yours."

Snowhawk's eyes widened. "She's going to leave?"

Fear nodded. "The visions were sent to help her appreciate life, Snowhawk, so she would know that not even the most flawed cat is worthless, or not worth saving…you could say she's flawed herself." Fear's golden eyes were glittering, as if with words that she could not say. Snowhawk simply blinked at her for a moment.

"The Pride?" he asked finally, and Fear nodded.

"My Pride still exists, but they're scattered," Fear said. "Maybe she'll unite them again, maybe she'll find new flawed cats. Either way, she's got a journey ahead of her."

Snowhawk frowned. "What can I tell her? When will they go away?"

"When she loses one of the most important things of all," Fear replied. "That's all I can tell you."

"Okay…what about Lune? And Ruin?"

Fear laughed. "That's two questions, Snowhawk. As for Lune…he isn't what he appears. Lune's doing something right now as we speak, nothing that you can help him with. Lune's destiny might be tied up in Lightkit's, I don't know. Lune is a friend for now, though, not an enemy to you. As for Ruin…." She stiffened suddenly, and her eyes flashed. "Wake up, Snowhawk! Now!" she commanded.

"What?" Snowhawk blinked.

"War is breaking out, and you're in danger!" Fear's eyes were wide. "Wake up!"

Snowhawk's eyes shot open, and he found himself staring into the dark face of Batter.

"So," the tom growled, "you weren't going to the lake after all, were you? Ruin thought as much." The dark tom's eyes were gazing hungrily at the StonePool. "That's the StarClan thing? Maybe I shouldn't wait for Ruin…maybe I should get nine lives!" Batter's dull face broke into a grin. Snowhawk shrank back, utterly confused.

"What's going on?" Snowhawk spat. "We had a deal with Ruin!"

"Ruin has no use for you forest cats," Batter growled, flexing his massive claws. "He used to for your way of life, and for your forest. As we speak, he's launching attack against Lightningstar right now. I was supposed to follow you, so Ruin could get his nine lives afterwards." He let out a rasping laugh. "I think I'd rather take the nine lives for myself though, personally."

With a sneer on his muzzle, he advanced.

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