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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30. Losing Battle

Snowhawk's ears flattened. "Can't we find some sort of compromise?" he asked. "Do you really think Ruin would let you come here if he thought you could get nine lives? Really now, let's think clearly. Ruin's the leader, and if anyone is going to get nine lives, it should be hi—" Snowhawk's words were torn away from him as the dark tom struck, pinning Snowhawk down in a motion that was surprisingly fluid for one of his size.

"Shut up," Batter spat, "Ottertail warned me about you, so quick with your words and light on your feet. Not so smart now, are you?" His stinking breath made Snowhawk's whiskers almost curl.

"Don't do anything stupid," Snowhawk spat. "Ruin will know what you've done if I don't come back!"

"I was sent here to kill you!" Batter laughed.

"Then you're a bigger fool than I thought! He's afraid of what killing a medicine cat might do to him. He's afraid of StarClan's anger, so he sent you to do it instead. It will be on your head, Batter, not his. Do you want the gods' rage coming down on you?"

Batter hesitated for a split second, and in that split second, thunder crashed above them, as if StarClan themselves were warning Batter. The tom's eyes widened in fright, and he shrank back, ears flat against his head.

"I didn't mean it!" Batter shouted at the sky, while Snowhawk stared up in amazement. Had the storm been gathering while he slept? Had StarClan made it for him?

Snowhawk took advantage of the situation. "Hear that, Batter?" he growled. "StarClan's angry with you. Instead of giving you nine lives, they might kill you on the spot!"

Batter flattened his stomach to the ground. "Please, no," he whimpered. "I'm sorry StarClan, I'll be good! I promise I won't hurt him!" His frightened eyes raked the skies through the hole in the top of the tunnel. Snowhawk was disgusted by his cowardice.

"Out of my way, Batter," Snowhawk warned. "I'm going back home. Perhaps I can sway the battle."

Batter stared at Snowhawk with wide eyes. "I-I'll come with you," he stammered. "Anyone causes trouble, I'll kill them for you."

Snowhawk was taken aback by Batter's sudden change of sides. Was his fear of StarClan really that compelling?

"Don't kill anyone," Snowhawk growled. "A true warrior never kills any cat if he can help it."

Batter simply stared at him, looking like a scared kit.

"Come on," Snowhawk said impatiently, pushing past the dark tom, who followed meekly. Snowhawk had to admit, it gave him a flash of pleasure to see the tom so afraid and cowering, but with StarClan's storm hovering over him, Snowhawk knew it wasn't his power that Batter was afraid of.

Light came sooner than Snowhawk expected, although it was a dim, fuzzy light because of the storm. Snowhawk flinched as lightning flashed overhead, with thunder only moments behind. He felt Batter let out a whimper behind him. Snowhawk marveled at the rumbles of the thunder; he could feel them through his paws in the grass.

"Let's go," Snowhawk ordered, and raced down the slope, with Batter trailing after him. The North River came into sight, and its rumbles drowned out any sounds of battle. Snowhawk quickly padded over the stepping stones, into the forest. He slunk through the forest, keeping his belly to the ground, eyes scanning the territory nervously. Suddenly, he felt a thump behind him, and he turned, claws unsheathed, ready for battle. Batter had pinned down a large white tom, and had his claws at the tom's throat. For a moment, Batter hesitated, and his head rose as he met Snowhawk's gaze firmly. Then, as sudden as the lightning overhead, Batter ripped a deep gash in the tom's shoulder and let him go. With a terrified look at the dark tom, the other warrior raced away.

"Didn't kill him," Batter said, and it seemed that he was saying it to Snowhawk as much as to StarClan. Snowhawk found himself smiling, but rumbles of the battle up ahead made him turn and race forward instead.

The battle Snowhawk saw was a nightmare. Swarms of Ruin's cats were fighting claw-to-claw against Lightningstar's Clan; his loyal warriors were hopelessly outnumbered against the city rogues. Snowhawk's ears flattened, and he glanced at Batter.

"Run off, then," Snowhawk growled. "Go grovel to Ruin and tell him why you failed to kill me. Tell him where he can find his nine lives while leaving his warriors to die."

Batter hesitated, but did not glance up at the storm overhead. "No," Batter said slowly, and Snowhawk's eyes narrowed, expecting the worst.

"No, as in you're actually going to kill me first?" Snowhawk growled. Batter's ears flattened, and his tail lowered.

"No, as in I don't want to go back," he said quietly. "StarClan protected you. From me. They cared enough to tell me not to kill you. Ruin would never do the same for me. Ruin doesn't care; he's got many more of me. Crunch died trying to find the cure for the disease Ruin brought on purpose. He knew a Clan cat would get it and it would weaken your Clan and indebt you to him. And Crunch died for him without a second thought. I'm having second thoughts."

The long speech seemed to exhaust the tom, and he simply blinked at Snowhawk with nervous eyes. Snowhawk stared back, lost for words.

"You're going to fight with us?" he asked in disbelief.

"Yes," Batter said, oddly soft-spoken for such a huge cat. Snowhawk blinked slowly, unable to understand his change in heart. Was it possible this was some sort of double-cross?

But to what end? Snowhawk thought. He knows where to get nine lives, he could kill me right now if he wanted to, and there's no way we're winning this fight; he has no good reason to side with us…unless what he's saying is true.

We need every cat we can get in this fight.

"Fine," Snowhawk said, and Batter's eyes widened. "Just don't kill anyone if you don't have to. Wound them to the point until they can't fight anymore or they give up, but don't kill them."

"Cats that can't fight are killed," Batter said. "It's as good as us killing them."

"Their blood won't be on our paws," Snowhawk replied, and turned back to the clearing where the battle raged. "I've got loved ones down there; I have to make sure they're okay."

Batter clenched his jaw. "I'll fight through them for you," he vowed, and sprang forward, surprising Snowhawk so the white tom had to hurry to catch up.

Batter seemed to plow through the crowd like a monster, taking down any cat that dared get in his way. It seemed to shock his comrades; they didn't expect one of their own to turn against them. He struck down cats with one dark paw, although Snowhawk saw to it that not a single was killed.

And then, he saw it, a golden pelt. "Lightningstar!" Snowhawk howled, and the golden tom turned, his muzzle contorting into a snarl as he saw Batter. Lightningstar sprang forward, claws outstretched. Batter moved to one side, prepared to counter-attack.

"No!" Snowhawk exclaimed. "Batter, he's Lightningstar, he's on our side. Lightningstar, Batter's with us." The rumbles of cats letting out battle cries and shrieks of pain made it impossible for him to pick out any one cat; he had to resort to reading mouth-movements, for now.

Lightningstar stared at Snowhawk, stark disbelief on his face. "Are you mad?" Lightningstar asked. "Fear was one thing, Snowhawk, she was lost and alone. This murderer is quite another!"

"He's right, I'm with you," Batter said quickly.

"It's a long story, but he's on our side now," Snowhawk meowed. Lightningstar looked from Snowhawk, to Batter, and back at Snowhawk again.

"Whatever; we need all the paws we can get. I just hope you know what you're doing," Lightningstar sighed.

"Continue fighting, Batter, I can handle myself," Snowhawk said. Batter nodded quickly, and launched himself back into the fray. Lightningstar watched the dark tom disappear into the mass of writing bodies.

"I never thought I'd see the day," Lightningstar said, and then turned to Snowhawk. "Did you speak with StarClan?"

Snowhawk nodded quickly. "I'll tell you all I can when this is all over," he said. "Lune is another ally though, so if you see him don't kill him."

Lightningstar nodded his head, and then a gleam of understanding appeared in his amber eyes. "Frostpaw is fighting over there somewhere, with Rainpaw," he said, nodding his head towards the western part of the battlefield.

"With Rainpaw?" Snowhawk echoed in surprise, and Lightningstar nodded.

"I've never seen him angrier than when he realized you were right, that Ruin was betraying us," he said with a slight laugh. "Mudstripe came to his senses to. Ottertail is fighting for Ruin's side…but that's no surprise."

Snowhawk still found himself surprised, somehow, that Ottertail had turned his back on his Clan, that he had sided with Ruin over Rainpaw, who had idolized him.

"Thanks," Snowhawk said quickly, before racing in the direction that Lightningstar had indicated. It was only when he glimpsed Frostpaw's white pelt and Rainpaw's gray dappled one side-by-side that he realized he hadn't asked about Mossflower. Was she fighting, or was she with her kits? And what of Lightkit? She must have been suffering terribly.

"Frostpaw!" he yowled, and she turned in his direction, her eyes sparkling like gems as she saw he was safe and well. He saw his name on her muzzle, before a tortoiseshell suddenly sprang at her from behind, pinning her down. Snowhawk opened his mouth in an angry yowl and sprang forward, but Rainpaw beat him to it, dragging the tortoiseshell off of his sister and giving her a furious clawing before she ran away screeching.

"Frostpaw! Rainpaw!" Snowhawk cried, as he finally reached him.

"Snowhawk!" Frostpaw exclaimed, rushing forward to bury her nose in his fur. "I'm so glad you're okay!"

Snowhawk smiled at her, and then gave Rainpaw a respectful nod. "I'm glad you picked the right side."

Rainpaw set his jaw firmly. "This was the only side," he said, and his tail touched his sister's back leg.

"Are you here to fight too?" Frostpaw asked anxiously. Snowhawk nodded.

"I have to fight as well as I can," he meowed.

"But you're our medicine cat! If you get hurt, who'll heal us?" Rainpaw demanded.

"If we lose this battle, we're all going to be dead," Snowhawk replied. "No one is going to heal anyone then. We need every cat we have fighting. Where's Mossflower?"

"She's defending the entrance to camp," Frostpaw explained, "protecting Sorrelkit and Willowkit. They were angry about it, Sorrelkit especially; they wanted to fight. Mossflower told them they could when they were apprentices….Breezefeather is there too, for Lightkit."

Snowhawk nodded slowly. "Camp should be well-defended, then." He was relieved that Lightkit wouldn't be alone, and that Mossflower would be safe; it was doubtful that the rogues would bother attacking camp, if there were only a few kits there. Ruin would want to fight the real danger first, slaughter the kits second.

Frostpaw tensed, and sprang suddenly, right at him. Snowhawk's eyes widened in surprise as she flew over him, pinning down a gray tom. She clawed him fiercely, hissing, and the tom fled.

"Thanks, I didn't hear him behind me," Snowhawk said. "With all this noise, I can't tell any cat apart."

Frostpaw blinked at him with worry. "Maybe you should go back to camp," she said slowly. "It's dangerous for you out here. You could send someone else to fight in your place instead."

"It's dangerous everywhere," Snowhawk said, "and I didn't come down here to hide and be safe while you guys risked your lives."

Frostpaw blinked at him slowly, and then smiled. "Alright," she grinned, and unsheathed her claws. "I bet I can beat more of them than you!"

"Stop flirting, idiots," Rainpaw hissed, clawing the muzzle of a dappled she-cat, "and fight!"

Snowhawk and Frostpaw both blushed, and turned away from each other, towards the mass of cats.

Snowhawk tensed as he faced a slim cream she-cat. She smiled at him sweetly, and he was almost taken aback, until she unsheathed her claws and sprang at him, pinning him down. Snowhawk let out a hiss and kicked her stomach, knocking the wind out of her, and slipped out from her grasp. He raked his claws down her back, and she let out a hiss, turning to spit in his face. Snowhawk tensed, and the she-cat let out a yowl of pain as Frostpaw attacked her from behind. Still yowling, the she-cat raced away. Snowhawk turned to thank Frostpaw, only to find that she was grappling with another cat, and soon he had an enemy of his own.

Time seemed to almost stop for Snowhawk as he was fighting. With the storm rumbling above, it was impossible to gauge any sense of time. Cat after cat launched themselves at Snowhawk, only to defeated at his (and sometimes Frostpaw or Rainpaw's) claws. Soon, Snowhawk himself was covered with scratches and gashes, the worst of which stained his shoulder crimson. It became hard to put weight on that side, and he found himself relying on Frostpaw, who stood next to him, to take any attacks from his left.

And then, suddenly, there was a lull in the battle. Snowhawk's keen eyes swept around, trying to pinpoint why the battle had stopped.

"There," Frostpaw whispered, nudging him and pointing towards a tree with her tail. "Ruin's speaking. He's too far away for you to read; I'll translate."

"I grow weary of this bloodshed," Ruin growled, and Snowhawk was surprised to see that there was no marks on his pelt; his fur was barely ruffled, although his claws were stained red.

He's really that good a fighter? Snowhawk thought in awe. Or is it some sort of deception? Might he have been hiding or standing there this whole time, and only bathed his claws in someone else's blood to make it look as if he had fought? It would boost his cat's morale and weaken our own….

"Both sides are losing cats," Ruin continued, "and there is no reason for this. Lightningstar, I will give you until dawn tomorrow. Gather your dead, tend to your wounded, hurry back to your pathetic camp. I'll give you one last chance to reconsider staying in this forest; if you leave in peace, I give my word you'll not be harmed."

"How can we trust a word he says?" Rainpaw spat, his blue eyes livid.

"We can't," Snowhawk said, "but this can buy us some time, although I'm almost certain he'll attack again before dawn."

"Look, his cats are leaving," Frostpaw whispered, and it was true; gradually, the battlefield was thinning as Ruin's cats retreated, back towards his camp.

"What if he's just using this time to get nine lives?" Rainpaw hissed. "What do we do then?"

"There's no time, he knows that," Snowhawk said. "It must be at least nightfall by now; there's no way he'll make it to the tunnels in time for moonhigh, even if he tries. And besides, it has to be a full moon for him to earn nine lives."

"I told him that, I remember," Rainpaw said, and Snowhawk could feel his self-disgust.

"Let's get back to camp," Frostpaw said, and Snowhawk and Rainpaw nodded, padding as quickly as they could.

Snowhawk's injured shoulder kept him from moving very quickly. Frostpaw stayed to help him, allowing him to lean on her, while impatient Rainpaw padded on ahead. Snowhawk could only see a flash of gray, and suddenly Rainpaw was on the ground, trapped underneath a spitting she-cat.

"Breezefeather?" Snowhawk asked in astonishment. The she-cat turned to blink at Snowhawk in surprise, and then looked down at Rainpaw.

"Oops!" Breezefeather exclaimed, taking a step back. Her ears flattened with discomfort. "Sorry."

Rainpaw got to his paws, shaking his coat free of dirt. "You're fast!"

Breezefeather smiled. "I'm here to protect the kits. No one is getting in without fighting me first," she proclaimed, and then blinked at them. "Why are you back?"

"Ruin's called off the fighting," Snowhawk explained. "I think he's hoping we'll just give up. He doesn't care about his cats, but even he knows he can't just let them all be killed, or they'll turn against him. Plus if he wins the battle, his cats will be spread thin between the city and the forest. He needs all the warriors he can get."

Breezefeather nodded, and then flicked her tail. "Mossflower's guarding the other side of camp. You two should be tended to, right? I'm sure she can help you, Snowhawk."

Snowhawk nodded gratefully, and the four of them padded into camp.

"Mossflower! The battle's been put on hold!" Breezefeather yowled. Mossflower turned, and her eyes widened when she saw the gash on Snowhawk's shoulder. She rushed to his side.

"Are you okay?" she asked anxiously, giving his shoulder a lick.

"Fine," Snowhawk replied with a purr, "but we should get ready. There'll be a lot of injuries to tend to."

Mossflower nodded. "I gathered a few herbs before the battle today," she said. "I know we were supposed to have a truce, but I felt uneasy…."

"A good thing you did," Snowhawk said, and then turned, seeing cats approaching. Windheart padded into camp with Leafshine leaning against him, looking dizzy and weak. She had a gash going all the way down her back. Fernstep and Stoneclaw padded together as well; besides a few shallow cuts, they seemed to be well. Nightpaw was the final to arrive; he was worried about Cricketpaw, the two of them had been separated in battle. Mossflower and Snowhawk quickly began checking all of their wounds, treating the most serious first. Snowhawk ordered Leafshine to lay down in his den, which she did, and despite Windheart's protests, Snowhawk ordered that she not be disturbed.

"How's Lightkit?" he asked Mossflower while they worked.

"Bad, I'm afraid," Mossflower said with a frown. "She started screaming; I guess we couldn't always avoid killing cats. She was in the medicine den, so it was muffled, and I regret that I couldn't go to her…but I had to guard the camp, you see. She's still screaming," Mossflower cocked her head to one side. "Cats dying on the battlefield, I suppose."

Snowhawk could see the worry in Mossflower's eyes; Lightningstar, Mudstripe, and Cricketpaw had not yet returned.

Suddenly, Leafshine appeared in the den. "Lightkit said Mudstripe's name!" Leafshine cried, her eyes wide. "And now she's making even more noise than before…I think another of our cats are dying!"

Snowhawk's heart seemed to stop. Lightningstar had nine lives, he couldn't lose them all in one battle. So…Cricketpaw….

Mossflower let out a cry, and Snowhawk turned to see Lightningstar's golden pelt padding towards the camp. On his back was Mudstripe's still body; in his jaws, he held a bloody Cricketpaw.

She has to lose one of the most important things, Snowhawk remembered Fear saying.

"No!" Rainpaw howled, lunging forward. Lightningstar let Cricketpaw down gently. His brother rushed to his side, nuzzling Cricketpaw.

"Cricketpaw!" Frostpaw ran to her brother's aid. Cricketpaw looked tiny compared to his siblings.

"Snowhawk, get over here!" Lightningstar demanded. He laid down on the ground, so Mudstripe's body would slid to the earth. Lightningstar let out a sigh, as if he didn't have the strength to get up again.

Snowhawk crouched by Cricketpaw. The tom was barely breathing. Snowhawk couldn't see where the blood was coming from at first, until he moved one of Cricketpaw's paws; a huge, gaping would ran all the way down his stomach, soaking the earth in blood.

"R-Rainpaw," Cricketpaw rasped. Slowly, his green eyes opened. They were glazed and unfocused.

"You're going to be okay," Frostpaw whispered, licking her muzzle. "Just lie back, Snowhawk will fix you, okay?"

"Lightkit's still convulsing," Nightpaw said in a dull voice. "I…I think she's being him right now."

"My precious kit," Leafshine whimpered, doing her best to curl around Cricketpaw, despite her own injuries.

"What are you waiting for?" Rainpaw demanded, turning to Snowhawk. "Fix him!"

"I can't," Snowhawk whispered. "He's…he's dying."

"No!" Frostpaw's eyes grew wide with horror.

"No! We were supposed to be warriors together!" Rainpaw spat. He turned to Cricketpaw. "Don't die! You can't die without being a warrior. We promised, remember? You promised me that you'd be brave and we'd become warriors together!"

Snowhawk didn't remember any promise – had Rainpaw and Cricketpaw made it in secret? – but it didn't matter. Cricketpaw would die an apprentice.

Wait! Snowhawk thought suddenly. There was a ceremony, wasn't there? For wounded apprentices who were almost warriors? He could remember the words, they were coming back to him, slowly.

"Lightningstar, please," Snowhawk said. "There's a ceremony that will allow him to become a warrior. Will you do it?"

Lightningstar stared at him, and then nodded slowly. Snowhawk whispered the words in Lightningstar's ear.

"There's a promise I have to fulfill too," Snowhawk said, blinking down at Cricketpaw. "We'll do them together."

Lightningstar nodded, and Snowhawk took a deep breath.

"A long time ago, I told a story of rain," he said, "and then one of frost. I promised I'd tell one for all three of you, but I never told the story of how the cricket got its song."

Cricketpaw's eyes managed to focus on Snowhawk. "Tell," he mewed weakly.

"Once there was a tiny apprentice named Cricketpaw," Snowhawk whispered. "She was very shy and very timid, and never spoke to a soul. She was afraid of everyone, even her mentor, and she had no friends. One day while in the forest, trying to get the nerve to catch her first prey. Hearing a noise, she pounced, only to find that her paws held a tiny creature. It was a cricket, the silent animal that she was named for, because they were both tiny and made no noise. Cricketpaw knew the story of her name, and she was pleased to see the creature than inspired it. She let the cricket go, but it lingered, curious as to why the cat had spared it. Then, another apprentice found the two of them, and ignoring the cricket, called Cricketpaw's name. The cricket realized Cricketpaw was named after it, and was both surprised and pleased. Cricketpaw left with the other apprentice. However, she was back the next day, and the cricket sprang right onto her nose. She was taken aback, but the creature seemed friendly. Longing for a friend, especially one that she had so much in common with, she and the cricket soon became very close. They eventually formed a sort of sign language to communicate.

"One day, Cricketpaw was looking for her friend in the forest. She spotted him on top of a log. Unfortunately, a robin spotted him as well. Cricketpaw was too far away to leap at the robin and save him. There was nothing she could do.

"Then, suddenly, bravery welled up in side her, and for the first time, she spoke.

"'Cricket!' she cried, and the cricket was so surprised that he leaped out of fright, out of the robin's reach. Cricketpaw was surprised herself that she had spoken. The cricket leaped towards her and onto her nose, his favorite spot, and the two of them simply stared at each other.

"Cricketpaw was delighted to have found her voice, and after that day she became more outspoken and began talking to her Clanmates and making friends. All was not well in the forest, however, for tensions between Clans were very high; it seemed the Clans were on the brink of war.

"One day, Cricketpaw was on a patrol with two other warriors. The cricket was following her close behind, but didn't dare show himself; he was scared of her Clanmates, despite Cricketpaw's reassurances.

"As they drew near the border between Clans, Cricketpaw became uneasy. Her pelt prickled as if she was being watched by unfriendly eyes. The cricket saw a pair of eyes gleaming in the brush, and knew they were the eyes of an enemy warrior. The cricket went stiff with fear, and remembering how Cricketpaw had saved his life, tried to call out to warn her. However, his voice was choked by fear, and he could do nothing. Suddenly, the enemy warrior leaped forward, right on Cricketpaw, and a terrible battle began.

"The cricket hid in the leaves, shaking with fear as he watched the battle between Clans. He searched anxiously for Cricketpaw, but could see no sign of her. And then for a moment, the waves of the battle parted, and the cricket could see Cricketpaw's still body. Forgetting all fear, he sprang towards her, landing on her nose. This time he received nothing, not even a smile, and her body was cold to the touch. The cricket realized his one friend was dead.

"Overtaken by sorrow, he refused to move from her body, even though it seemed he would be crushed by some huge cat. He couldn't help but remember how she had saved his life, and how he had failed her. Suddenly, a strange sound burst forth from him, a sort of chirping song that came in two notes; Cri-ket, Cri-ket. He had found his voice, but it was too late for him to save her, and so he sang on.

"Word about Cricketpaw had spread through the crickets of the forest; they were honored to have a mighty cat named after one of their own, and surprised that Cricketpaw could tell her cricket from the rest just by sight. She was kind to all the crickets she met, and when the crickets heard Cricketpaw's friend's song drifting over, and they knew the worst must have happened.

"Crickets from all over the forest gathered together, listening to the one cricket's song. And slowly, the others began to learn it to, and a swell of 'Cri-ket, Cri-ket's rang out.

"Surprised, the warriors on both sides of the battle stopped for a moment, wondering what was going on. No creature had ever made such a sound before. They searched for some sort of sign from StarClan, and saw the gathering of crickets on the fringe of the battle. Then, one warrior saw Cricketpaw was dead, and let out a wail. The cricket on her nose trembled with fright, but didn't move, continuing his mourning song.

"'An innocent life was claimed today,' one warrior said sadly. 'See how her friends mourn! See how she had friends we didn't know of. See how they sing for her and honor her. She should not have died this day.'

"Quiet agreement rippled through the battlefield, from cats on both sides. Then, the leader of the enemy Clan came forward.

"'Her friends are mourning her deeply; the crickets have broken their silence for her. She must have been a noble cat, to be so mourned, and must have then come from a noble Clan. We will fight no more this day.' And with that, the leader dipped his head and padded away, with the rest of the Clan following him.

"Cricketpaw's Clan tried to gather her body, but the little cricket would not move, and chirped even louder when another cat approached. Finally, the Clan let him be.

"The cricket did not move for two days, even though he became parched and hunger clawed his belly. Grief overtook him, and at nightfall on the second day, he died, perhaps joining his friend in StarClan. It was only then that Cricketpaw's Clan could take her body, and she and her cricket were buried together.

"From that day forward, each green-leaf night the crickets have gathered, singing their song of mourning for the two friends. It is said this mourning might have even given them a place in StarClan, for with this friendship they proved they were almost cats themselves."

As Snowhawk finished, a slight smile curled Cricketpaw's muzzle.

"The cricket was brave in the end," he whispered.

"So were you," Rainpaw said, his voice trembling as he stared down at his small brother, and buried his nose in Cricketpaw's brown fur.

Quietly, Lightningstar spoke. "I ask my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. He has learned your noble code, and given up his life for his Clan. Let StarClan accept him as a warrior. He will be known as…Cricketsong."

"Cricketsong," Frostpaw whispered.

"Cricketsong," Rainpaw whispered, nuzzling his brother. "Don't think you're so far ahead of me though, okay? I'll be a warrior before you know it!"

"Cricket, Cricket, Cricket," Leafshine wailed, licking Cricketsong furiously and calling out the name she had given him at birth. "My little Cricket…."

Cricketsong's eyes slowly drooped closed, and his breathing began to ease. Finally, he let out a small breath, almost a sigh, and his flanks stopped moving. His family's mouth opened in a shared wail, but Snowhawk could hear nothing. He stared down at Cricketsong, his fallen friend, simply feeling numb.

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