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?


33. Tansy

Littlewing's kits were all healthy and strong; what was more, they were evenly divided between she-cats and toms. The biggest kit in the litter was, surprisingly, a she-cat. The smallest was also a she-cat, the little turned-around kit. The other two were toms, of about average size. Snowhawk found himself almost hovering over them, anxiously watching them in case something went wrong; guilt from losing Mossflower's kit still haunted him when he looked at Littlewing's four healthy kits. He couldn't lose another one.

Frostflight seemed drawn to Littlewing's kits as well, although Snowhawk couldn't tell why; she watched them almost all the time, and several times Snowhawk caught Frostflight and Littlewing murmuring together, although they always stopped when Snowhawk entered the den. Although Snowhawk was relieved that Littlewing had a friend in the Clan, it also unnerved him; Frostflight's behavior had been erratic of late, and it weighed heavily on Snowhawk's mind. His heart yearned for her, and several nights he dreamed of her, which just made it worse when he awoke to find that she wasn't sleeping next to him. He couldn't bear the thought of anything happening to her, and despite what he had said he couldn't bear the thought of her having another tom's kits, even though it would make her happy. He wanted Frostflight for himself.

Rainfur too had been acting strange, spending more time out on his own, probably visiting Cricketsong's grave. Rainfur felt guilty, Snowhawk knew, and he felt responsible for his little brother's death. Rainfur was moving farther and farther away from the Clan, but there was nothing Snowhawk could do about it. Like Lightkit, Rainfur had to choose his own path. Snowhawk couldn't decide it for him.

"Have you decided what to name them?" Snowhawk asked Littlewing one day, watching Frostflight leave the den. "They're beautiful kits, and they deserve names of their own."

"Will Lightningstar be angry if I don't give them Clan names?" Littlewing asked anxiously. Snowhawk smiled at her.

"Of course not," he meowed, "it's your choice what you want to name them. It's your choice whether you want to stay here or not; we can't force you to do anything."

"And how do Clan names go?"

"You just add –kit to the end of the name," Snowhawk explained, "although they're usually named after physical traits that tie into nature, not just random words or anything. Fernstep, for example, was named Tabby when she first came here, but her name changed when she became a warrior."

Littlewing nodded slowly. Her cream tail brushed over her kits slowly, and her icy eyes were dark as she blinked down at them. Naming was often hard for mothers, Snowhawk knew, because of everything it meant; a name could shape a kit's path. A name determined everything they would become. That was why warrior names were so important; they were not only names for what the cat was, but also names for what the cat would eventually become.

"Honykit," Littlewing said finally, touching the biggest kit gently with her tail; the cream she-kit. Snowhawk smiled at her, and Littlewing continued slowly. "Ashkit," she decided one of the toms would be named, a dark gray tom. "Featherkit," was the smallest kit, a little silver kit with one white paw. Littlewing stared down at the final kit, a black tom. "Crowkit," she said finally, and then blinked at Snowhawk anxiously.

"Beautiful names," he assured her. "Perfect."

A slight smile lit up Littlewing's face.

. . .

Snowhawk awoke to the feeling of Lightningstar calling the Clan together. He glanced at Hedge, who smiled at him brightly. It was a bit strange for Snowhawk, to wake up next to another cat again, especially when it wasn't the she-cat he had been dreaming of.

"Best go see what he wants," Snowhawk meowed, rising to his paws. He left the den, feeling Hedge following him closely. She had flirted with him since she unofficially joined the Clan, but after receiving no real reaction, the flirtations had stopped.

"We have gathered here for something very special," Lightningstar meowed, pride in his amber eyes. "Today, our Sorrelkit and Willowkit will be apprenticed; the first true kits of this Clan, born of Clan blood." He looked down at his kits. Sorrelkit and Willowkit had obviously been groomed, but apparently Sorrelkit had gotten away from her mother before she could finish; the hair behind Sorrelkit's left ear was still standing up, as was a patch of fur on her left flank. Willowkit appeared nervous, nibbling her lip and scanning the gathered cats, as if to see who she would get as a mentor.

"Sorrelkit, Willowkit, come up here please," Lightningstar rumbled. "Sorrelkit, Willowkit, you are six moons old now, and able to receive your apprentice name. Do you promise to train hard and learn StarClan's noble code?"

Both kits mewed "I do", although Sorrelkit's mew was more of an excited squeal, and Willowkit's was more of a whisper.

"Then, from this day forward until you earn your warrior names, you will be known as Sorrelpaw and Willowpaw." Lightningstar's gaze scanned the Clan. "Fernstep, I trust that you can keep up with Sorrelpaw's boundless energy. You will be Sorrelpaw's mentor, and I hope that you can pass your love for your Clan and your swiftness down to her."

Fernstep's eyes glowed with pride, and she rose to her paws, padding to touch noses with Sorrelpaw, who looked ready to run through the forest and back.

"Rainfur," Lightningstar continued, "although we have questioned your loyalty in the past, you have shown that you have the heart of a warrior. You were always gentle with your little brother, and I trust you will pass that same gentleness onto Willowpaw. You will be Willowpaw's mentor, and I hope that you can pass your pride and conviction down to her."

Rainfur was frozen, utterly surprised to become a mentor. Snowhawk was startled as well, until he realized that by giving Willowpaw to Rainfur, Lightningstar hoped to help Rainfur come closer to his Clan again.

"I can't," Rainfur said, ignoring the shocked looks of the Clan. "I…I can't be trusted." He bowed his head. "I was wrong once, and I could be wrong again."

"Every cat makes mistakes—" Snowhawk began, but Rainfur turned to glare at him.

"Not every cat's mistake gets his brother killed," Rainfur's hissed, blue eyes blazing. Then, the fire seemed to die within him, and his shoulders slumped. "I've been meaning to say this for a few days now; I'm leaving the Clan."

Leafshine let out a gasp; Snowhawk could feel the pain in it through her paws. "I'm sorry…I'll miss every cat here. But this is something I have to do." Rainfur raised his chin, and his blue eyes blazed again, although this time not with anger. "Like Lightkit – Angel – I have to choose my own path."

Lightningstar blinked down at him for a moment, and then bowed his head. "I understand," he said, much to many cats' surprise. "Every cat should be free to choose their own paths; if you feel you must leave, so be it. But remember this, Rainfur: You will always have a place in SnowClan."

Rainfur dipped his head. "I'll keep my name, Rainfur, to remind me of my home and so I can attempt to follow the warrior code as best I can." He turned to Leafshine and Frostflight. "I love you."

Leafshine came forward to bury her nose in Rainfur's fur. "I've lost two sons this moon," she croaked. Rainfur licked her ear.

"We'll see each other again," he whispered into his mother's fur.

The Clan blinked up at Lightningstar, uncertain as to what would happen. He seemed unsure for a moment too, until his eyes landed on Leafshine.

"Leafshine," he boomed. "You've always been shown to have a motherly quality for kits that were not your own; you cared for Willowpaw alongside Mossflower. You will be her mentor. I trust you will pass on your gentle nature and kindness to her."

Leafshine's green eyes widened with surprise, and she seemed almost uncertain. She rose to her paws with a glance at her son, and touched noses with her new apprentice.

The Clan stirred, about to begin the apprentice chant and then bid Rainfur farewell, but Lightningstar held up his tail.

"There is one more matter we must attend to," Lightningstar said. "Hedge has become one of us; she will be Snowhawk's apprentice, and as such, she deserves her own name. Hedge, come up here please."

Hedge glanced at Snowhawk, astonished, but he only smiled. Hedge padded towards the StonePile.

"Hedge, the path of a medicine apprentice is not an easy one," Lightningstar meowed, "but Snowhawk believes you to be up to it. Do you promise to train under Snowhawk, and learn the way of a medicine cat?"

Hedge glanced at Snowhawk, an almost coy smile on her muzzle. "I do."

"Hedge, from this day forward until you earn your medicine cat name, you will be known as Shadepaw," Lightningstar said. Snowhawk wondered if he touched noses with Hedge, and then decided to; it wouldn't matter in StarClan's eyes. Hedge's nose felt cool against his own.

"Shadepaw," she said, testing out her new name. "I like it!"

"So do I," Snowhawk said warmly, and felt the Clan's chanting swell around them,

"Sorrelpaw! Willowpaw! Shadepaw!"

He had done it; the Clan had a strong leader, a deputy wiser than the one before, a loyal medicine cat, an eager medicine cat apprentice, its first Clanborn apprentices, and a name to tie them all together. The Clan was finally complete.

Snowhawk had never felt happier.

. . .

The days seemed to unfold quickly before Snowhawk's eyes. Shadepaw was eager to learn, and didn't even seem fazed when she learned she couldn't have a mate; it was the flirting that was the fun of it, she explained. Snowhawk thought about telling her that she couldn't flirt either and break any toms' hearts (Crowkit? Ashkit?) but decided against it. Hopefully Shadepaw would mature in time, even further than she already had. She wasn't the foolish cat that Frostflight had disliked so many moons ago.

Sorrelpaw proved to be a match for Fernstep, and Willowpaw seemed to blossom under Leafshine's careful nurturing. She was like Cricketsong in many ways, simply wanting a few kind words and the support of a sibling to become brave; she definitely had both. Sorrelpaw proved to be fiercely loyal to Willowpaw, nearly clawing her friend Nightpaw's muzzle off when he taunted Willowpaw after she missed a finch. Nightpaw didn't make that mistake again.

Rainfur departed the Clan as he had said; it tore Leafshine's heart to lose another son, but she had the support of the Clan to heal her heartache. It was Frostflight who most worried Snowhawk, however; she still seemed depressed and oddly fragile, very different from her usually bubbly self. And what was more, she wouldn't speak to Snowhawk; she always seemed to be busy barely picking at a piece of prey, or leaving to patrol when he wanted to talk to her. It weighed on Snowhawk, but the day-to-day challenges of being a medicine cat wore him down.

The half moon came, and Shadepaw met StarClan for the first time. She talked Snowhawk's ear off on the way to the Shine Tunnel and back, so excited was she over meeting the legendary StarClan, of having them confirmed as being real. Snowhawk was proud she finally seemed to understand what being a medicine cat meant; it was more than just mixing herbs, it was about having starry cats walk at your side, always there to lend a helping paw when you felt you could give no more.

Leaf-bare brought sickness, of course; Snowhawk would have been at his wit's end, were it not for Shadepaw's help in mixing herbs and collecting others when he was too tired or too busy. Having her was a life saver, in all forms of the word. Being so close to Twolegplace proved to be a blessing as well, for catnip was in short supply in the forest, but in huge supply in the back yards of Twolegs, and Shadepaw knew them better than any cat. She showed Snowhawk where they grew, and helped him collect an entire plant, bringing it back to plant in the forest. They'd have to wait until the next leaf-bare to see if it proved useful, Snowhawk knew, but visiting the stubborn little plant each day always made his heart feel lighter.

And then, the unthinkable happened: Frostflight's belly began to swell. Snowhawk didn't want to believe it at first, even when he saw her eat more prey than she had before, even when she complained of having stomach pains, thinking that she might be getting sick. But eventually, Snowhawk could deny it no longer; Frostflight was going to have someone's kits.

But whose? That was the question that bothered Snowhawk most. Whose kits could Frostflight possibly be having? Nightpaw was the only possibility, but Snowhawk doubted it; Frostflight and Nightpaw hardly interacted, not enough for a budding romance, at any rate. And Nightpaw seemed to be recovering from the loss of his dear friend of Cricketsong and the cat who he might have hoped to someday mate with, Angel. Although, Snowhawk had seen the way Nightpaw had started to look at Sorrelpaw, almost appraisingly, as if there might be a romance in their futures.

So, who could it be?

Snowhawk finally had to ask. He managed to pull Frostflight away from the others, for once.

"You're…you're going to have kits," he choked out. It felt like the words were tangible lumps in his throat, strangling him. Frostflight's eyes widened, and her shoulders slumped. She appeared to almost collapse in on herself. Snowhawk tore his eyes away from her; he couldn't look at her, his eyes were somehow drawn to her growing belly every time he tried. Whose kits were swelling her belly?

I told her she could, he reminded himself. I told her it was her choice, not mine, if she wanted to settle down with someone else….Even the thought was painful, tearing through his mind like an enemy's claws.

It wasn't until he felt Frostflight's tail brush his flank that he realized she was padding away, that he had lost her again.

Three days later, she moved into the nursery with Littlewing. The Clan pressed her for details, some eagerly, some cautious, but Frostflight said nothing, simply smiled a smile that didn't reach her eyes. Snowhawk's heart ached at the thought of those mismatched eyes, once burning with love and happiness, reduced to sorrow and a strange haunted look.

It seemed that Littlewing was the only one that Frostflight would talk to, these days. Snowhawk would feel them having muffled conversation every time he walked past the nursery, but he couldn't never catch a word, just broken rumbles.

Littlewing's kits were growing quickly, too; they were soon a moon old, stumbling around the nursery on unsteady paws, blinking bright eyes. Honeykit's eyes were blue – she looked like a replica of her mother, except for the lack of white markings – as were Ashkit's. Featherkit's and Crowkit's eyes were their father's amber, however, leaving Crowkit as almost a miniature of his father, except for all four of his paws being black. Only somehow, instead of being the cold amber of Ruin's eyes, Featherkit's and Crowkit's eyes were bright and fiery, reflecting none of their father's spirit. Snowhawk was glad for that, at least. Some cats could escape the legacy of their parents, even ones as twisted and bloody as Ruin's.

Cats were becoming more and more curious about Frostflight's kits, however, and as Snowhawk soon realized, there were many theories.

"What's up with you and her?" Shadepaw asked him one bright morning, while the two of them were sharing prey.

Snowhawk glanced at her. "What do you mean?"

"I remember her, she was the little apprentice that jumped on my tail and scared me off," Shadepaw mewed. "She was jealous, even I could see it. And now she's with kits. She's never really with any other tom, except Windheart, but I assume he's her father. I can put two and two together, Snowhawk."

Snowhawk blinked slowly. "We're…close," he said slowly, "and I wish we could be closer. But it is forbidden for a medicine cat to have a mate, and those are not my kits."

Shadepaw blinked at him. "But you love her," she said. "You'd really stick to the code that closely?"

"If I don't, then you won't," Snowhawk said, "and if you don't, will the one after you? And the next? It's part of our bond with StarClan; it's what we give up in exchange for being so close to them, having them walk by our side. Why shouldn't we give up something in return for that kind of closeness to those that went before us?"

Shadepaw blinked slowly. "Noble," she meowed, "but I think the Clan thinks those kits are yours."

"I wish they were," Snowhawk said softly, and then looked up quickly as he felt pawsteps approaching. It was Fernstep, and her green eyes were shining oddly.

"Hello, Fernstep," Snowhawk purred and rose to his paws, "how are you?"

"Excellent," Fernstep replied, her eyes glowing. She glanced over her shoulder, and then whispered, "I think I might be pregnant."

Snowhawk's eyes widened. "I thought Stoneclaw thought he couldn't…?"

"He was wrong," Fernstep giggled, sounding almost intoxicated with happiness. "Is there a way you can check?"

Snowhawk nodded, and Fernstep laid on her side while Snowhawk examined her, asking her several questions before giving a little nod. She sat back up.


Snowhawk smiled at her. "I hope Stoneclaw is ready to be a father."

Fernstep purred so hard that it felt as if the earth was shaking under his paws. "I'll go tell him right now!"

Snowhawk smiled; it was good that the Clan would have three litters, although it wasn't desirable during the middle of leaf-bare; the Clan was having a bit of a hard time hunting for Littlewing's four kits. Still, Fernstep's kits would be born in very early newleaf, while Frostflight's would be on the tail of leaf-bare, so everything might work out alright….

Not if the Clan thinks that Frostflight and I are together, Snowhawk thought. The pelts of her kits might disprove that when they're born, but I don't want my reputation tarnished…especially since I gave her up to keep it! The Clan can't respect me as a medicine cat if they think I have my own kits….

He sighed quietly; he needed to talk to Frostflight about this, but she had been avoiding him, that much was obvious. Was it out of guilt for putting him in this position? Or was it something more? Was she trying to hide something from him? And if so…why?

Snowhawk blinked, as he realized Fernstep was staring at him expectantly.

"There's nothing I really need to give you, yet," he said warmly, "although when your stomach starts getting bigger, you'll need some borage leaves to help you produce milk. Other than that, you're free to go."

Fernstep smiled, and then licked Snowhawk's muzzle. "It's thanks to you that this even happened," she purred, her eyes glowing with happiness. "I'll go tell Stoneclaw right now!"

Snowhawk watched Fernstep pad out of the nursery, smiling as he thought of the look on Stoneclaw's face, when he realized he was going to be a father. Now that Stoneclaw had StarClan to fall back on, to assure him that even when he died his kits would eventually find him in the stars, Snowhawk knew Stoneclaw would make an excellent father. The thought of solemn Stoneclaw playing with his kits made Snowhawk chuckle.

"Anything I can do now?" Shadepaw chirped, rising to her paws. Her shoulder had healed well, and Snowhawk knew she was filled with energy.

"Well—" Snowhawk began, only to clamp his jaws shut as Frostflight entered the den. She kept her eyes low, and so did he, not wanting to look at her stomach and see what was inside of her.

"Shadepaw, you can handle her," Snowhawk said, "it will be a good experience for you to handle a pregnant queen. I'll…I'll mix herbs." He turned away. Shadepaw glanced at him, but then smiled at Frostflight.

"What seems to be the matter? Need more borage leaves today?"

"I'm a little…sore," Frostflight said softly. "My joints kind of ache…because of the weight of the…."

Shadepaw nodded, and Snowhawk watched her keen green eyes sweep over the gathered herbs. "Let's see, joint pain…joint pain…mmm. Oh! Here!" She grabbed several leaves with one paw, and pushed them towards Frostflight. "Tansy, for joint pain," Shadepaw recited, looking to Snowhawk for approval.

"No!" Snowhawk shouted, grabbing the leaves away from Frostflight. Shadepaw and Frostflight both stared at Snowhawk; Shadepaw looked merely surprised, but Frostflight looked almost scared.

"Sorry," Snowhawk said quietly, returning the tansy to the pile. "Chew these," he ordered Shadepaw, handing her some daisy leaves. "Tansy is very bad for queens, it can lead to miscarriages," Snowhawk said, watching Shadepaw carefully chew the leaves into a pulp, before spitting them out for Frostflight to lap up. Snowhawk thought he saw a flash of something in Frostflight's eyes – an idea? – but he disregarded it, focusing on Shadepaw instead. "I made the same mistake once, so don't feel bad; luckily my mistake was too late in the pregnancy to cause any real damage. There was one dead kit, but that wasn't my fault, exactly…." Snowhawk sighed. "Just remember it," he said tiredly, turning away. Frostflight swallowed the pulp and left the den without another word.

Snowhawk curled up in his nest, putting his head on his paws. Seeing Frostflight every day for her borage leaves, watching her stomach growing larger each passing day…it was too much for him. He felt as if he was on the verge of collapsing.

"Fresh air is the best remedy, sometimes," he felt Shadepaw say gently. "You work too hard, Snowhawk. Take some time off; I think I can hold down the den here. Is there anything else I need to know, lest I accidentally kill someone?"

Snowhawk glanced at her, and saw her green eyes sparkling; he knew she meant well.

Maybe she's right, he thought with a small sigh. I've been working hard to drive away the thoughts of Frostflight…maybe some time in the forest would be good for me. I can at least gather a few herbs, right?

He nodded to Shadepaw. "You should be fine," he meowed, before padding out of the den, and then out of camp.

He wandered aimlessly for many moments, until he realized that he had subconsciously been following a scent; Frostflight's scent.

What is she doing out here in the forest, as large as she is? Snowhawk wondered, frowning. If her joints were hurting her enough that she had to come ask me for help, surely she doesn't want to be wandering around out here.

His pelt suddenly prickled with foreboding, and he was seized by an immense feeling that something was wrong. He broke into a trot, following Frostflight's scent. The broken brush told him she had been moving quickly, albeit painfully, as if she had some sort of goal in mind. But what?

Another scent reached his nose, and Snowhawk's eyes widened as he suddenly realized what Frostflight was after.

"No!" Snowhawk shouted, breaking into a run even though he knew he would be too late. Frostflight's scent grew stronger in his nose, mixing with the scent of tansy, threatening to overwhelm him.

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