Fire and Shadow

AU. Rusty has been adopted not by ThunderClan...but ShadowClan!


25. Chapter Twenty-Five

The four chosen warriors (plus one unchosen apprentice) followed the trail of WindClan. The scent went up the far edge of the uplands and then down when the ground sloped away to Twoleg farmland. Firefang remembered seeing it on the way to Mothermouth. The Highstones lay beyond that farmland.

Down the slope they went, then groing sideways the walked into a grassy field. Mistyfoot was the one who spotted the bones of small prey animals: a sure sign that WindClan had passed through here. The cats had to push through another thick hedge onto another grass verge, a narrow ditch and beyond it lay a wide earth track. Across the track was a hedge on the other side. On the other side of the hedge was a thunderpath—much larger than the one that ran between ShadowClan and ThunderClan.

Firefang could only marvel at the sheer size of it—and the desperation that must have driven WindClan into crossing it. "What now?" Mistyfoot asked as she eyed the wide expanse. "It's getting dark…bad enough to cross a Twolegpath in the day, but at night?"

"I suppose we'll wait for the morning." Firefang sat down, grateful for the respite. It had been a long, hard travel. Seeing the look on Onewhisker's face, he added. "We're tired, and of no use to anyone if we do find your Clan only to collapse when we do. We'll start fresh first thing in the morning." He promised. Onewhisker flicked his tail sulkily and nodded, sitting down to groom himself.

"Let's go hunting." Ravenwing meowed, breaking the tension. "I'm so hungry I could eat a whole mouse den!"

Mistyfoot nodded. "Let's split into pairs and go hunting, but don't stray too far from here." Onewhisker scrabbled back to his paws.

"Good idea! Let's see if we can find some extra prey for my Clan…we don't know how well the prey has been running where they've been." He looked at Gorsepaw. "And I can show you how to hunt like a real WindClan cat!"

Gorsepaw purred. "Can I Firefang, can I please?" Firefang shook his head and mrowed in amusement.

"When have you ever taken no for an answer? Go ahead…I'll hunt with Mistyfoot while you hunt with Onewhisker and Ravenwing." Mistyfoot nodded, grateful for the chance to have a moment alone with him. Nodding delightedly, Gorsepaw bounded around, following Onewhisker and Ravenwing away from where they had stopped to do some hunting. Firefang and Mistyfoot headed in the opposite direction.

Neither said anything for what felt like a long time. It was Mistyfoot who broke the silence. "…I think—I think I love you Firefang."

Firefang felt a warmth grow inside him as he rubbed himself against her. "I love you too."

"But what now?" Mistyfoot whirled, looking Firefang right in the eye. "We come from different Clans! I could not ask you to forsake ShadowClan to join RiverClan and I could no sooner join ShadowClan myself! And what if our two Clans should ever have to fight again? I—I could not bear to see you hurt by a Clanmate." She whispered, lowering her head. Firefang licked her ears, nuzzling her head lovingly.

He'd been wrestling with the same issues too. He knew that as an ex-kittypet he could never be trusted in RiverClan if he joined them, assuming they'd let him; they'd see him as a footloose tom who changed homes like other cats changed their bedding. And ShadowClan would see Firefang bringing Mistyfoot into the Clan as a further dilution of ShadowClan by outsiders, like Boulder and Firefang himself.

Mistyfoot murmured something. Firepaw strained to hear it. "What was that?"

"I said…I wonder if this is how my parents felt." Mistyfoot meowed softly. "Graypool said she didn't know why my mother gave me to my father, Oakheart, to be raised in RiverClan. Oakheart never even told her who my mother was—she figured it out because of how similar Bluestar's fur was to mine." She paused. "Do you think…she was ashamed of me?"

"No!" Firefang shook his head adamantly. "No cat could ever be ashamed of you. I didn't know Bluestar very well, but she seemed to be an honorable she-cat. I don't know why she gave you up…but I know it had to have been for a good reason. You can't tell me that you're unhappy that you're RiverClan, can you?" Mistyfoot shook her head.

"…So what now?" She asked.

Firefang paused. "I—don't know." He admitted. "I don't want this to end." He mewed.

"Neither do I. But--" she took a deep breath. "But it can't continue. StarClan has separate destinies for us…ShadowClan needs you and my Clan needs me—no matter how much it hurts." She looked down, her ears flat. "There—there has to be a reason why StarClan has the four of us—you, me, Ravenwing and Onewhisker—brought together: one from each Clan. Whatever it is they want us to do, we can't do if I join your Clan, or you join mine." Her words, so full of thought were spoken with such pain that it was obvious her heart and her head were in conflict with one another.

Firefang's claws dug into the ground as he fought to maintain control of his raging thoughts and feelings. He wanted to deny what she said, deny his Clan, everything if he could only be with her! But deep down, he knew she was right. The ShadowClan warrior rubbed his flank against hers, purring and intwining his tail with hers…for what they both knew would be for the final time.

Night fell, bringing an end to the day…and to the hardest day Firefang and Mistyfoot had ever had to face.

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