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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28. Stalling

Snowhawk awoke to see sunlight streaming in through the den. He glanced at Lightkit – she seemed stable enough, for now – before padding out of the den into camp. He blinked in surprise, smelling Ruin's cats' scents in the camp. Sure enough, there were two of his warriors around the fresh-kill pile, dropping off several mice before leaving without sharing tongues. Several of his own Clan were missing, and Snowhawk guessed they were catching prey for Ruin's Clan, returning the favor.

How pointless, Snowhawk thought sadly. Is this what our Clan's become?

It was about time for the sunhigh patrol to set out, and Snowhawk watched Fernstep round up a few cats, eventually just bringing Cricketpaw with her. Their border was smaller now, after all, and there was less chance of attack, so fewer cats needed to come along, which meant that the apprentices weren't getting as much training as they needed. Snowhawk frowned, and padded out of camp, heading to Ruin's camp instead. Clan life would be mostly the same in his own camp; to experience the true changes, he needed to see how the city cats went about their den.

It seemed about the same as it had been the day before; many warriors paced to and fro, going about their duties as a normal Clan would, although the fresh-kill pile was almost nonexistent; the warriors ate their kills as they caught them, Snowhawk guessed. There appeared to be no elders or queens, which was to be expected; they wouldn't be well enough to make the trip from the city to the forest. There were apprentices, but as Snowhawk watched from the bushes, they seemed to have different mentors, hunting with one and training for battle with another right in camp.

Finally, Snowhawk turned to go, padding back towards his own camp. More of Ruin's warriors were there, sharing tongues with members of Snowhawk's Clan. Rainpaw had returned, and Snowhawk padded over to him; he wanted to speak with the gray apprentice.

"Why have you been meeting with Ruin's Clan so often?" Snowhawk demanded. Rainpaw blinked slowly.

"Good to see you too," Rainpaw said icily.

Snowhawk licked his chest, realizing he was getting off on the wrong foot. "It's good to be home again," he said, "but I'm a little startled by how everything's changed. How come you're so close to Ruin's cats now?"

"They're cool, and Ottertail likes them," Rainpaw said defensively.

"He doesn't like them, he works for them! Rainpaw, the only reason they're still here is because Ruin wants nine lives. Once he has that, he'll take over our territory!"

"You don't know anything about Ruin," Rainpaw spat. "I've been teaching him a lot about the Clan; and it wasn't Ottertail that told him how nine lives work, it was me! And guess what, Snowhawk? He didn't care! He wanted to learn more about our patrols instead!" Rainpaw raised his chin stubbornly. Snowhawk blinked in surprise.

Maybe Ruin was just pretending that he didn't care so Rainpaw wouldn't be suspicious, he thought. Or maybe…maybe Ottertail already told him that, so it didn't matter. But why would he care about patrols?

"I've been teaching them all about the warrior code, how warriors don't kill and take care of elders and kits and everything," Rainpaw bragged, "and they all want to listen to me. So shut up, Snowhawk. Just because your Lightningstar's favorite and have your fancy name doesn't mean you're better than me!" Rainpaw's blue eyes flashed, and Snowhawk suddenly realized that Rainpaw was jealous. Snowhawk's eyes narrowed.

"You're too jealous to see what's in front of your own nose!" Snowhawk growled. "Ruin's using you, somehow! He doesn't care about becoming a Clan, he just wants this information. He wants to know all about us so he can beat us! You're just being used by him."

"Shut up!" Rainpaw snarled, unsheathing his claws, batting Snowhawk's tail away from his throat. Snowhawk realizing Rainpaw was looking for a fight. In the back of his mind, he knew medicine cats weren't supposed to fight, but Snowhawk found himself itching to wipe Rainpaw's smug look off his face.

"Bring it on," Snowhawk hissed, fur bristling. Suddenly, Rainpaw's head jerked to the right, and Snowhawk followed the movement. Lightningstar was padding towards them, eyes blazing.

"Snowhawk, Rainpaw, what is the meaning of this?" he thundered, loudly enough that Snowhawk could feel it through his paws. "We might be fighting Ruin's cats in less than a half moon, and you're going to be fighting each other? Snowhawk, as a medicine cat I expected better from you."

Snowhawk's ears flattened, and he felt like he was still an apprentice being scolded. One glance at Rainpaw told Snowhawk that Rainpaw was even jealous of a single comment, of Lightningstar's expectations. Snowhawk gritted his teeth.

"Rainpaw's being used by Ruin for information, but he won't listen to me," Snowhawk said, well aware of how pathetic he sounded. "He's been telling Ruin all about our customs and way of life."

"Isn't that the point of them even being here?" Rainpaw spat. "Mudstripe trusts them, Ottertail trusts them. Do we need the entire Clan to trust them before we can just teach them about the warrior code? You taught it to us when we were just kits, Snowhawk. Is there really so much of a difference between us now?"

Lightningstar's eyes narrowed. "Teaching them the warrior code because they want to change is good," he said, "but if they're only using part of it for their own gains and part to learn how to defeat us…that is worrisome." He sighed quietly. "I gave my word that we would wait, and I will…but I don't want to see you around them any longer, Rainpaw, and I don't want either of you fighting."

Snowhawk nodded, and after a moment of hesitation, Rainpaw nodded as well.

"Whatever you say, Lightningstar," Rainpaw said, but there was a rebellious look in Rainpaw's blue eyes that Snowhawk didn't like. Rainpaw padded away, leaving Snowhawk feeling disgruntled. When he returned home, he had thought that things would be back to normal, or at least close…but how he had a sick Lightkit to contend with, he couldn't seem to get a spare moment with Frostpaw, and Ruin was causing trouble in both Clans.

Snowhawk sighed, and Lightningstar rested his tail on Snowhawk's shoulder. "A lot is different," Lightningstar said quietly. "It will take some time to get used to, won't it?"

Snowhawk nodded slowly, and Lightningstar padded away. Snowhawk glanced around for Frostpaw, but she was nowhere to be seen; perhaps she was hunting. Snowhawk went back to check on Lightkit, but she was asleep. Having nothing to do, Snowhawk settled down in his den to watch the Clan.

The mixture of cats was strange to him, as strangers walked among the cats he knew and had trained alongside. He recognized Skullcrush, and Crunch and Batter – what were their new names? – but he didn't recognize any of Ruin's other cats. He was almost disappointed that Wander or Shaw hadn't come with Ruin, but the thought was preposterous; neither of them would want anything to do with Ruin, no matter what he seemed.

He saw Sorrelkit and Willowkit together, playing. Sorrelkit was strong and fast, but Willowkit seemed a bit feeble, although her face was lit up in a smile as she struggled to keep up with her golden sister. She had obviously been more sick than Sorrelkit, but it looked as if she was healing; Willowkit would be stronger when she was older, of apprenticing age. Snowhawk watched their game with his head on his paws, before something caught his attention in the corner of his eye. He turned his head, and saw a white tom speaking with several of Ruin's cats. Snowhawk wasn't quite sure why his attention had turned to this particular tom at first; Lightningstar's cats were eying him with distrust, but they were doing it with several other cats of Ruin's as well. Then, the tom's scent drifted towards Snowhawk's nose, and his eyes widened: Lune.

Sudden fury welled up within him, and he rose to his paws. This was the cat that had betrayed Fear, caused her to lose faith in her followers, eventually leading to Sin's death and her own! This was the traitor!

Snowhawk stalked forward, but almost as if Lune could sense him coming, the white tom rose to his paws and padded out of camp. Padding quickly on silent paws, Snowhawk hurried after him, following the tom's white tail into the forest.

"Lune!" he snarled, and the white tom turned. At first, his golden eyes showed no interest in Snowhawk, until they widened in understanding.

"You're that white cat of Lightning's," Lune said slowly; the velvet soft tones of his voice could be felt through Snowhawk's paws as he grew closer to Lune. "Frostpaw? Or was that someone else?"

"I was Snowpaw then, but I'm Snowhawk now," Snowhawk growled. "You traitor. Fear's dead because of you!"

For a moment, the news seemed to truly surprise Lune; his face froze in a mask of shock. All too quickly, he hid his emotions behind a wall of impartialness.

"Dead? How could you possibly know that?" Lune asked, his voice cool and uninterested.

"She fled to the forest with some of her other cats, but you already knew that when you tried to steal the Pride," Snowhawk hissed. "She ran to Twolegplace; somehow Sin was killed and the others left her too. She was alone and broken, you pile of foxdung! She was captured by Twolegs and imprisoned for an entire moon, until the Twolegs put her to death. I saw her in StarClan."

Lune's impartial mask seemed to almost slip. "She's truly dead?"

Snowhawk let out a rumbling hiss, claws unsheathed for the second time that day. "Are you doubting the word of a medicine cat?"

Lune took a step back. "I didn't kill her!"

"You did the next best thing!" Snowhawk roared, springing forward with outstretched paws. It had been a long time since he had been in any sort of battle, and Lune avoided the attack easily.

"I thought medicine cats didn't fight," Lune said challengingly.

"We do against scum like you," Snowhawk shot back, leaping again, only to have Lune sidestep him again.

"I'm not going to fight you," Lune spat. "There's more to this than you understand."

"All I know is that Fear's dead, and it's your fault. You betrayed her for nothing more than power."

"And you're so much better than me!" Lune sneered. "You left her after staying for barely a day, crawling back to the cats that exiled you! Look how loyal you are to them now, you fool. What did they do for you, huh? They exiled you, threw you away like an old piece of prey. Fear took you in, and you left her? You're no better than I am."

Snowhawk had no reply to the accusation; he had left Fear, but StarClan had said he had made the right choice; weren't they the best judge, in their eternal wisdom? But if they had chosen for him not to stay with Fear, how had they welcomed her into their fold after she died?

Seeing that his opponent was distracted, Lune turned tail, disappearing into the thick brush, leaving a confused Snowhawk behind. He considered going after the coward, but knew Lune was going to run back to Ruin, and as fragile as their alliance was now, attacking one of Ruin's cats in the middle of camp wouldn't help matters. Sighing, Snowhawk turned and padded back the way he had come, feeling lost and disoriented. How was he supposed to know who to believe?

. . .

The next few days passed much the same way, with the strange going-ons between Clans. Moments with Frostpaw were rare, as Snowhawk had other matters to deal with; taking care of Lightkit, watching to make sure Lune didn't come back, watching to ensure that Rainpaw didn't leave. Lightningstar seemed more and more disturbed by Ruin's loose interpretation of the warrior code; his warriors were gruff, with strange, ominous names, eating prey for themselves first and their Clan second, patrolling only as much border space as they had to. While it was true that it meant less work for patrols, it also meant that each group has less hunting space than before; although they were supposed to be one Clan, there was an undrawn boundary between two camps that neither group much wanted to cross. Ultimately, this didn't help Lightningstar's warriors gain any more weight, but it didn't help Ruin's either; Ruin had many more cats with less territory than he had in the city. Although the forest was more fertile, it could only hold so many cats for so much time.

What this meant was that there was only so much time both sides had; eventually their fragile peace would shatter, and they would be drawn into a war for the forest itself. And since Ruin owned both the forest and the Twolegplace, there was nowhere Lightningstar's Clan could run.

The half moon was quickly approaching, but Snowpaw held a feeling of foreboding. Sometime seemed wrong, even as the moon waned down to half the size it had once held. Snowhawk had a sinking feeling that something would happen, before the allotting time. Surely Ruin knew that Lightningstar wouldn't let him stay in the forest once their time was up?

And then, four nights before the half moon rose into the sky, the Clan received a visitor. Snowhawk opened his eyes to see a pale figure, as white as moonlight, sinking into the Clan. Snowhawk rose, blinking sleepily, thinking that it was only a dream or some figment of his imagination, but after a moment it became apparent that this figure did not intend to fade away. Snowhawk rose to his paws, squinting, and fear flared inside of him as he realized the stranger was heading for Lightningstar's den. Snowhawk immediately raced out of the den, just in time to see the white tom enter the den.

"Lightningstar!" Snowhawk shouted in warning as he entered the den, only to find that the white cat- Lune – was sitting calmly beside an awake Lightningstar.

"What are you doing here?" Snowhawk hissed at Lune.

"He wanted to meet with me," Lightningstar said, nodding to Snowhawk. "And since our Clans are at peace for now, I agreed. He didn't want to speak around you, for some reason." The look in Lightningstar's eyes told Snowhawk that Lightningstar knew exactly why Snowhawk didn't want Lune in camp, and that Lightningstar didn't want him here either. Still, if Lune had come to them it had to be for some reason; perhaps Ruin had tired of waiting for their decision.

"Ruin's planning something," Lune said slowly. Lightningstar's eyes narrowed.

"Be more specific," the golden tabby growled.

"He isn't going to wait until the half-moon; he's preparing his forces, summoning cats from the city. They're waiting nearby, probably very close to that field your Clan ran off to that one time, after we ran you off." Lune spoke softly, and he seemed to be cool and under control again.

"He's going to attack us?" Lightningstar demanded. Lune nodded slowly.

"He knows you won't attack until the half-moon, and that you'll try to negotiate. Ruin doesn't negotiate; he grabs what he wants, and kills to get it if he has to."

"Like you," Snowhawk hissed, just loud enough for Lune to hear. Lune glanced at fleetingly, but said nothing.

"And why should we believe you?" Lightningstar asked. "You were our enemy them, and you're still our enemy now. What good would it do for you to warn us of this?"

"It's got to be a trap," Snowhawk said flatly. "He tricked Fear too, didn't he? If he can make us attack first, we'll look like the bad cats, rallying Ruin's cats against us. Maybe he's hoping to provoke a war so that he can somehow either get Ruin killed in battle, or kill Ruin himself in the thick of it, when no one will notice."

Lightningstar nodded slowly, and Lune looked almost panicked.

"I can understand why you wouldn't trust me, but I have nothing to gain from this! I'm telling the truth!"

Lightningstar's eyes narrowed. "I don't think we need to listen to a traitor like you; you were selfish and cruel when you joined Fear, and you're selfish and cruel now. Get out of my camp, before I kill you myself; I have a feeling Ruin won't miss you."

Lune's ears flattened. "Please, just listen—"

"Out!" Lightningstar thundered. Knowing that he had lost, Lune rose to his paws and slipped out of the den without a backwards glance. Snowhawk's pelt prickled with fury.

"He should die for what he did," Snowhawk growled. Lightningstar sighed.

"That's not for us to decide," Lightningstar said tiredly, lying down once more. "Go back to your nest, Snowhawk. Rest. Even if he's lying, this won't be the last time we'll hear from him; I can feel it in my pelt."

Snowhawk nodded, and rose to his paws, leaving Lightningstar's den and entering his own. As he curled up beside Lightkit, it seemed to him that his sense of foreboding had grown even stronger than before.

. . .

Snowhawk awoke to vibrations of screaming. He opened his eyes slowly, unsure as to what was going on. Then he glanced to his side, and saw Lightkit thrashing wildly, panting as if she was short of breath. Another cry of pain escaped her, and Snowhawk leaped to his paws, not knowing what to do. H e couldn't stop these visions, he didn't know how; he could only stay beside her and help her through them.

He could feel her screaming, finally letting out a choked gurgle and growing limp. By pressing his paws against her side, he could feel the name of the dead cat,

"Stonefur."

Lightkit opened her eyes slowly, looking up at Snowhawk. She didn't look shaken, or even frightened, just sorrowful.

"Will you kill me now?"

Snowhawk simply stared down at her for a moment, and then looked away. "No."

She closed her eyes. "Didn't think so. But when you're off watching your Clanmates get hurt in battle – fighting with them, even, we'll need all the cats we have – you won't be here to stop me from doing it myself. No one will be."

Snowhawk simply gazed down at her with sorrow in his eyes.

. . .

"I need to speak to StarClan," Snowhawk said. Lightningstar glanced at him.

"What?"

"I need to talk to them," Snowhawk repeated.

"They won't tell us if Ruin is going to attack."

"I know. It's not about that. It's about Lightkit."

Understanding dawned in Lightningstar's eyes. "Her visions."

Snowhawk nodded. "I'm afraid she'll kill herself if I don't do something about them, but I don't know what to do."

"I can't come with you right now, and you know the way," Lightningstar said. "Why ask me?"

"I can't go yet; the half-moon is when I'm supposed to visit StarClan," Snowhawk said. Lightningstar frowned.

"And you know we will more than likely be in a fight by then," Lightningstar said, "so you want me to buy you some time so you can meet with them when you should."

Snowhawk nodded, and Lightningstar sighed. "What am I supposed to tell him?"

"Tell him you'll join his Clan," Snowhawk said. "To him, we already are joined, hence 'TwoClan' but I'm sure he'd rather make it official than pick a fight. Then, tell him how to get nine lives."

Lightningstar's eyes narrowed. "We can't let him get nine lives."

"So lie," Snowhawk replied. "He knows where we came from because Skullcrush probably told him, so just point him in that direction. With any luck he'll wander off in search of it. While you're meeting with him, I'll visit StarClan. It shouldn't be hard to avoid him; as long as he's not downwind, I can smell him a hundred tail-lengths away."

Lightningstar considered it for a moment. "There is a lake somewhere to the north of the tunnels," he said slowly. "It's hard to get to because of the rocky climb…but if we could convince him to go there, it could work…."

Lightningstar nodded slowly. "I'll speak with him tomorrow. You sneak the day after – it will take you some time to reach the tunnels and then find the right one. The next night you can speak with StarClan, and hurry back, and we can see what happens."

Snowhawk nodded, and dipped his head. "Thank you, Lightningstar," he said, before padding to the medicine den.

"Lightkit," he called, and the little kit opened her eyes, blinking slowly. "I'm going to see StarClan soon, just in a few days. Do you think you can hold on until then?"

"Yes," Lightkit whispered, softly at first, and then more loudly, "of course."

Snowhawk smiled at her, gave her a few poppy seeds, and left the den.

Almost immediately, Frostpaw cornered him.

"You're leaving again, aren't you?" she asked in an accusing voice. "I saw you talking to Lightningstar. What have you two agreed on? Where are you going?"

He knew there was no point in hiding anything from her, not now. "Lightningstar is going to tell Ruin that we'll join him tomorrow, to buy me some time. The day after that I'll leave to find StarClan and ask them about the coming battle and Lightkit. Okay? I'll be back soon, I promise."

Frostpaw blinked at him anxiously. "You're sure you'll be safe?" she whispered, and Snowhawk nodded.

"I promise, I'll come back," he said, and licked her muzzle, feeling his tongue tingle, before glancing around nervously in case they were drawing any attention. "I'm just going to StarClan, it isn't the end of the world."

"That's what you said last time," Frostpaw reminded him.

"This time I actually have a clue as to where I'm going," Snowhawk purred, swiping his tongue over her ear. "Relax. Want to share prey with me?"

"Of course," she said, and followed him to the fresh-kill pile, but even as she bit into their vole, her mismatched eyes were dark with worry, sharing the same anxiety that Snowhawk felt.

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