Please note that any canon events after Darkest Night do not apply to this fan-fiction. The story picks up shortly after Tigerheart(star) returns and claims his rightful place as leader of ShadowClan.
The prodding of tiny paws woke Ivypool. The queen blinked her eyes open, taking in the sight of the nursery. She noticed Rosepetal in her nest, still asleep, her tiny daughter Sweetkit asleep at her stomach. Cinderheart was also in her nest, her two nearly-apprenticed-aged kits asleep as well. Daisy, who permanently lived in the nursery keeping it clean and helping queens, was also asleep in her nest.
Ivypool looked down to see her only son, Bushkit, prodding her. "Mama, can I go watch the dawn patrol leave?" The silver and brown tabby asked, blinking up at her with messy fur and bright blue eyes.
"Yes Bushkit but be quiet and don't disturb them." Ivypool replied. As she did, Fernsong quietly padded into the nursery.
"Squirrelflight wanted to see if you'd like to go on the dawn patrol. I didn't want to wake you but I see someone already has." The ginger tom spoke, purring at his son.
"I'd love to. Are you okay to sleep with the kits?" She asked her mate.
Acornkit and Goldenkit still slept, and the two she-kits were generally heavy sleepers. Fernsong nodded, purring at the sight of his sleeping daughters.
Ivypool slowly got up, careful to not disturb her sleeping kits. Bushkit looked up at his mother once more. "Can I go and sit outside still?" He asked.
"Yes, but remember what I told you." Ivypool replied, motioning with her tail for her son to follow.
The kits were only two moons old, but they were as lively as ever, especially Bushkit.
Ivypool left Bushkit sitting outside the nursery and padded up to the dawn patrol. Berrynose and his apprentice Finpaw sat waiting. Stormcloud, Twigshade, and Whitewing also waited to leave.
Squirrelflight purred as Ivypool padded up to the group. "I see you've decided to join us. I thought you might like to stretch your legs."
Ivypool gave a nodd of appreciation. "Well, lets get to it." She meowed to the group.
"Would you like to lead?" Whitewing offered her daughter.
"Sure. Let's go to the SkyClan border first." Ivypool replied.
Ivypool noticed Finpaw and Twigshade exchange glances. The pair were obviously wary of their former Clan.
"It will be fine." She reassured her former apprentice.
Ivypool led the group out of camp, heading toward the border.
The patrol reached the river that divided the two Clans, to find a SkyClan patrol also marking the border. Leafstar, the SkyClan leader, led the patrol. Mintfur, Reedclaw, a newly named warrior, Rabbitleap, and his apprentice Nectarpaw followed the leader. A sixth cat, Molewhisker, brought up the rear. The ThunderClan cats all cast glances at Molewhisker. He'd recently left ThunderClan, announcing a SkyClan cat, Blossomheart, was expecting his kits. Most of ThunderClan considered him a traitor, and things were still awkward between the tom and his former Clan. Ivypool gave an acknowledging nod to Leafstar as the SkyClan patrol left.
Ivypool noticed Twigshade visibly searching for her sister Violetshine, and then looking away disappointed when she noticed she was not on the patrol. Meanwhile, Finpaw wouldn't make eye contact with his sister, Reedclaw. Finpaw had left SkyClan with Twigshade, the two deciding ThunderClan was the best place for them. Ivypool watched, sympathetic for the young cats. Ivypool remembered her personal struggle with the Dark Forest and struggling to feel like she belonged.
Ivypool ignored the thought and focused her attention back to the patrol. As the group split up to mark the border, Ivypool watched Twigshade and Finpaw go together, laughing and enjoying themselves. She nearly said something to the pair, but decided to let them be. They'll only be young for so long. Ivypool thought to herself. Great, now I sound like Brightheart. Ivypool thought, thinking of her grandmother, who was now an elder.
With the group spread out, the border was quickly marked. “Let’s go down by the lake and then over to the WindClan border.” Ivypool instructed the patrol. The other cats nodded in agreement and followed the silver-and-white tabby queen down to the lake.
The patrol padded along the lake shore uneventfully, and eventually reached the corner where the lake shore and the WindClan border met. There was no patrol to greet them, and the border was quickly marked. The patrol circled back around to camp, doing a quick sweep of the territory. Finpaw found a stale badger scent, but the trail was a few days old.
“We can report it to Bramblestar when we get back to camp. I’m sure it was just passing through.” Ivypool informed the apprentice.
By the time the patrol returned, the camp was in full swing. Squirrelflight was organizing hunting patrols, the kits were all now playing in the clearing as Rosepetal and Fernsong watched them. Cinderheart had seemingly left her kits to join a hunting patrol with her mate, Lionblaze, and his apprentice Stempaw. The trio passed Ivypool and her patrol as they padded through camp. Ivypool saw Bramblestar, looking out over camp from the Highledge.
She admired the dark tabby tom from below, imagining the thoughts in the tom’s head. To lead the Clan. The privilege it must be. She thought to herself.
As a kit, she’d always wanted to be a leader. But what kit didn’t? And then when the Prophecy of the Three came, and included her sister and not her, Ivypool had felt abandoned. It led to her joining the Dark Forest, first as a trainee, and then as a spy. In the end, Ivypool arguably saved the Clans. But Ivypool still didn’t feel as if she’d truly served her purpose. Will I stand on that ledge one day? She began to think but stopped herself. Ambition was good, but it could destroy a cat, as she’d seen in Hawkfrost, Brokenstar, and many of the Dark Forest cats. All in due time. She kept telling herself. She still had nightmares of her time in the Dark Forest and could still picture the ruthlessness and hatred of the Dark Forest cats in her head. She often dreamt of Hawkfrost returning to kill her kits in revenge and fought the tom off in her dreams. He had been killed for good by Brambleclaw, but not before he’d nearly killed Ivypool.
“Mama!” Ivypool was brought back to the present by the tiny voice of Goldenkit, her youngest kit. “Mama, you’re back! Did you bring us back any prey?” The tiny golden tabby she-kit asked.
“It was a border patrol, Goldenkit, so I’m afraid not. Maybe this afternoon.” Ivypool replied, and then offered in solution.
“I want a mouse!” Bushkit announced, running over to his mother. Acornkit was right behind him, her tiny brown paws scrambling to keep up with her brother.
“Well, why don’t you go see if there’s something on the fresh-kill pile?” Ivypool offered. “No mama, I want a warm mouse that you or Fernsong killed!” Bushkit corrected himself.
“Well, you need to be patient, little one.” Fernsong shot back, flicking the tom-kit on the ear affectionately with his tail. “Be thankful for what prey we do have. Prey might be running strong now, but it won’t always be like this.” He continued.
Ivypool purred at her mate’s comments. He’d always been the more nurturing of the two and was often the one to take advantage of a moment to teach their kits. Ivypool was thankful for a mate who was willing to share “queen duties” so she could still continue the life of a warrior. It had taken quite amount of convincing for Ivypool to eventually want kits. Fernsong had convinced his mate he’d help raise their kits, even more so than the usual tom. Ivypool was thankful he’d kept his promise, often staying with their kits so she could join a patrol, or just have some time to her own. The Clan hadn’t taken so well to it at first, and there were many whispers about it. But as Fernsong did it more and more, they began to see what a great father he was and were grateful to still have Ivypool as a warrior.
Bushkit nodded at his father’s comments and bounded off to the freshkill pile to search for a decent piece of prey. Goldenkit was right behind him, with Acornkit bounding after her siblings.
Ivypool watched her kits scramble off, purring with amusement. She nuzzled her mate affectionately as he padded off. With Fernsong gone, Ivypool found a spot near the nursery to rest. Cinderheart joined her not long after, watching as her own two kits wrestled around. "They're getting so big. I hardly know what to do with them anymore." Cinderheart commented. Ivypool's attention was drawn to the two kits.
"They'll make fine warriors. Wolfkit is built much like his father. And Brackenkit, I love watching her with my own kits. She's kind. Much like her mother." Ivypool commented warmly.
"Well, I'm sure they'll fair just fine. It will be nice to hunt and patrol again. I'm quite fond of your own way of doing things." Cinderheart replied.
"Fernsong is very understanding." Ivypool simply responded, used to defending her decision.
"Oh no, I meant no ill meaning. You're a great warrior Ivypool. The Clan is lucky to have you." Cinderheart reassured the other queen.
Ivypool didn't reply, but instead sat quietly. A few moments passed by and Cinderheart began to speak once more.
"I understand how it feels." The gray queen began.
"Being a mother is great and..." Ivypool started to reply, and was then cut off.
"Oh no, I don't mean about being a queen. I've seen it in you Ivypool. You desire to be your own cat. Being Lionblaze's mate, I felt the same way you did before the Great Battle. And... I've always felt not in control of my own fate. Until the Great Battle passed, I didn't truly understand I could control it on my own. But I do now. And I pray to StarClan you feel that peace." Cinderheart finished speaking, looking with kindness in her eyes at Ivypool.
"I... Thank you Cinderheart. You're a good friend." Ivypool replied, unsure of what else to say.
Ivypool, however, knew exactly what the queen had meant. She’d finally began to feel like her own cat. No prophecy overshadowing her, her sister had her own mate and kits in another Clan, and the forest seemed to finally be at peace. Her kits, now two moons old, were getting to the age where they explored more, and relied on her less. Recently, she’d joined more patrols, and spent more time as warrior, not a queen. Was it possible she had a destiny of her own to fulfill? Did StarClan have some bigger role intended for Ivypool?
Ivypool padded through the thorn barrier back into camp. Two voles and a mouse dangled from her mouth. Larksong, Ambermoon, and Ambermoon’s apprentice Plumpaw followed. The hunting patrol reaped the good hunting of the warm greenleaf. Each of them carried prey, dropping it on the freshkill pile.
It had been two days since Ivypool’s talk with Cinderheart, and she hadn’t been able to get the thoughts off her mind. She loved her mate and kits greatly but knew her Clan always came first. Ivypool was grateful for Fernsong’s willingness to be an especially active father and enjoyed still being able to go on patrols. But there had to be more. Ivypool felt it deep inside. Rattling around inside her, waiting to be realized. StarClan must’ve had greater plans for her. Her sister saved the Clans after all. Her grandfather was Firestar, a bold leader who’d be remembered for many seasons. She knew a greater purpose awaited her.
“Mama!” A voice broke up her thoughts. Goldenkit came scrambling over to Ivypool. “Some of the apprentices gave us rides on their backs!” The pale tabby kit motioned over to her siblings, who were purring in amusement and wailing in excitement as they rode on Eaglepaw’s and Finpaw’s backs. A couple of the other apprentices watched, along with Twigshade. Ivypool purred, watching Bushkit cling to Eaglepaw’s back for dear life.
“Watch meeeee!” Acornkit yelled as she flung herself off Finpaw’s back. The kit hit the ground and tumbled, quickly getting back on her feet.
“Again!” Wailed Bushkit. Eaglepaw began to bend down to allow one of the kits to climb on her back. Bramblestar padded up just as Bushkit bounded over to the pretty ginger apprentice.
“I hate to interrupt, but it’s time we practice some battle moves.” The dark tabby leader mewed.
“That’d be great!” Goldenkit exclaimed.
“Oh yeah! We’ll shred those fox-hearted ShadowClan cats!” Bushkit added.
“I’m glad to see you’re both enthusiastic, but how about we wait until you’re six moons?” Bramblestar suggested to the kits.
The kits instantly gave meowling complaints.
“All three of you stop that.” Ivypool told her kits. “Let Bramblestar and the apprentices go, you can play later.”
The kits began to complain again but were cut off by Finpaw. “Maybe I can show you some of the moves we learn!” He exclaimed.
Berrynose, Finpaw’s mentor, had been standing behind Bramblestar waiting for his apprentice. “I’m afraid you won’t be doing more battle training, Finpaw. You are coming with me to do your warrior assessment.”
This got all of the nearby cats attention. Eaglepaw whispered in surprise to her sister Plumpaw. Bramblestar gave an approving nod. Ivypool listened as her kits began to woo over Finpaw.
“We want to be warriors too!” Bushkit declared.
This time Fernsong rescued Ivypool from her impatient, playful kits. “All in due time Bushkit. For now, just enjoy being a kit. Why don’t you and your sisters come help me find a good mouse to take to Daisy?” All three kits gave excited cheers and bounded after their father, who had gestured with his tail and began padding to the freshkill pile.
With the kits distracted, Bramblestar motioned for Eaglepaw to follow him. She did, along with Ambermoon and Plumpaw. Ivypool turned to Finpaw.
“Goodluck, you’ll be great.” She encouraged the apprentice.
Finpaw purred at the praise and turned to face Berrynose, waiting for instructions.
Berrynose turned to speak with Ivypool. “Maybe you can help me assess him? Normally two warriors do it, and since you just finished mentoring Twigshade not long ago, I figured there would be no better cat to ask. No other apprentice is ready for their assessment yet.” Berrynose explained, waiting for an answer.
“I’d be happy to.” Ivypool replied. She turned her head back to see her kits busy with Fernsong. She purred in amusement watching her kits paw all of the prey, arguing over which piece of prey was the best. “It looks like Fernsong will have them busy for a while.” She added.
“Well then, lets get this done.” Berrynose directed, heading for the camp entrance. Finpaw and Ivypool followed. As they padded into the forest, Berrynose began to explain the assessment. “We’ll find a clear spot in the forest to have some battle assessments. We’d normally use the sandy hollow, but the other apprentices are training there. After that, we’ll have you hunt and Ivypool and I will silently watch you and observe how you do.” Ivypool listened to the directions, remembering her own assessment. If Finpaw was as nervous as Ivypool’s sister, Dovewing, was when they were assessed, his heart was probably pounding faster than a mouse being hunted. Ivypool remembered the day she and Dovewing were assessed as Berrynose led her and Finpaw through the forest.
Ivypool had hunted with another warrior, Hazeltail, during her assessment and had caught several mice. Her sister caught nothing on her hunt and had been worried she would fail her assessment. They both passed their assessments and Ivypool knew it was because of how important her sister had been to the Clans at the time. She often told herself she had moved passed her sister and the prophecy that had overshadowed her, but Ivypool still felt her pelt crawl when she thought about it. The whole ordeal had driven her to be seduced by Hawkwing into joining the Dark Forest and had led her astray. Iypool had eventually realized the level of treachery in the Dark Forest and became a spy for the Clans. But it still haunted her. Two of the current Clan leaders, Bramblestar and Tigerstar, had even been lured to the Dark Forest, but they both had seemingly came back from it, finding solace in their mates and kits. Ivypool had yet to find complete peace, feeling a longing for something more. She loved her own mate and kits dearly, however, she still knew more was to come.
“How about you and Ivypool begin? Try to knock her off her paws.” Berrynose’s instructions snapped Ivypool out of her thoughts.
Ivypool cleared her mind and stepped up to face Finpaw. The young cat seemed to overflow with excitement as he crouched. Ivypool noticed the apprentice shifting his paws, ready to leap at her.
Ivypool readied herself, waiting for the apprentice to make the first move. Without any sign of warning, Finpaw quickly dove at Ivypool’s paws. The queen barely had any time to react, leaping just as Finpaw made contact with her. The two rolled for a moment, and then quickly were back on their paws facing each other. Finpaw swatted Ivypool’s nose, claws sheathed.
“Unsheathe your claws. You’re going to be fighting as a warrior!” Ivypool directed. Berrynose began to speak, but decided to let the battle proceed.
Finpaw did as he was told and struck at Ivypool again. Ivypool dodged his blow, and reared up on her hindquarters, striking the apprentice with her two front paws. Finpaw was prepared, and rolled the side, and then jumping on Ivypool’s back. She tried to knock him off, but the apprentice held on.
“Alright, I think we’ve seen all we need to. Even with only part of your tail, and restarting your training, you seem to fight well.” Berrynose assessed. “Let’s see how well you hunt.”
Ivypool got up, shaking the earth from her fur. “Well done. Let’s hope you hunt as well as you fight.” The light-brown and ginger apprentice purred with pride at the praise.
“Ivypool and I will be watching, keeping our distance. Do your best, catch what you can. When we’ve seen enough, we’ll stop you.” Berrynose instructed further.
The apprentice nodded and padded off further into the forest. Ivypool followed Berrynose to a larger oak.
“This will give us a good vantage point.” He evaluated the oak tree, and then climbed a few branches up. Ivypool followed and took her place next to him.
Assessing an apprentice, seeing the future of ThunderClan in action, gave her hope. There was much hope, and a bright future for her Clan. Would she play a larger part in that?
After watching Finpaw successfully catch a finch, a mouse, and a vole Berrynose stopped his apprentice, congratulating him on his catches. Ivypool had agreed with Berrynose that Finpaw had demonstrated all the proper skills of a good hunter, and a good fighter.
The two warriors led the apprentice back to camp, and then Berrynose left the pair to speak with Bramblestar.
“You did very well. You’ll make a great warrior of ThunderClan.” Ivypool told Finpaw, once the two had been left alone.
“You think so? I feel ready to be a warrior, but part of me feels guilty.” Finpaw confessed.
“Guilty? Why?” Ivypool inquired.
“Part of me wishes I was becoming a SkyClan warrior, where my father and littermates could see.” Finpaw explained.
Ivypool took a moment before replying. She could understand the young tom’s internal conflict. She knew just how hard it could be having a sibling in another Clan. She had struggled at first with Dovewing being in ShadowClan, being their leader’s mate. Her and her sister were now both queens, and Ivypool had often thought what it would be like sharing the nursery with her sister, just as they had shared the apprentice and warriors’ dens. However, after a moon or so, Ivypool had become to see how good it had been, for both her and Dovewing. Dovewing was with the cat she loved, in the place she belonged. She suspected Finpaw had followed Twigshade, Ivypool’s former apprentice, to ThunderClan for the same reason.
“Things will be how StarClan will them.” Ivypool began, and then added. “I understand how hard this must be. Being in a Clan where you have no kin, with no cat you grew up with. But if you’re here, and you are, it must feel right in your heart. Surely you’d have gone home by now if it hadn’t?” She asked.
“You’re right. It does feel right. Coming with Twigshade was the choice I had to make. I… I couldn’t leave her.” The tom admitted, licking his chest fur to hide his embarrassment.
“Caring for another cat does not make you mouse-hearted. It shows you’re capable of love. Including love for your Clan.” Ivypool comforted the embarrassed apprentice.
“Thank you Ivypool.” Finpaw replied, dipping his head in respect to the queen.
“I’ll leave you be. Why don’t you go enjoy a piece of freshkill? I need to return to my kits.” Ivypool gave a farewell to Finpaw and padded away towards the nursery.
It was now not far off from sundown, and if Bramblestar chose to do Finpaw’s warrior ceremony, it would be soon. As Ivypool padded into the nursery, she found Fernsong asleep with their kits laying around and on him. Acornkit had wrapped herself up by his belly, while Bushkit and fell asleep with his head resting on Fernsong’s flank. Goldenkit was sleeping by her father’s paws. Ivypool purred at the sight of her mate and kits all sleeping peacefully.
“Wake up, you dormouses.” She spoke, causing Fernsong to stir. “We needed a nap. They began to argue with Wolfkit and Brackenkit.” He explained to Ivypool.
“They started it.” A sleepy Bushkit defended.
“Yeah.” Goldenkit agreed.
“Well now, it doesn’t matter. It’s over. Why don’t you wake up and shake the sleep from your eyes? There might be a ceremony soon, and if you sleep any longer, none of us will get any rest tonight.” Ivypool spoke as her kits got to their paws.
“Ceremony? So I assume Finpaw’s assessment went well?” Fernsong asked.
“Very. The young tom has a bright future.” Ivypool answered.
“I want to be a warrior!” Bushkit interrupted.
“One day Bushkit. For now, why don’t you just enjoy being a kit.” Fernsong told his son.
“Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather here beneath the High-ledge for a Clan meeting!” Bramblestar’s call could be heard all throughout camp. Ivypool and Fernsong gathered their kits outside the nursery to watch the ceremony.
Bramblestar and Berrynose both stood up on High-ledge. “Berrynose, has Finpaw completed his training and warrior assessment to your satisfaction?” Bramblestar asked the cream colored tom.
“He has Bramblestar.” Berrynose replied.
“Well then.” The leader began, and then turned his head to the crowd. “Finpaw, would you join us?”
The apprentice bounded up to the High-ledge, his excitement and nervousness both visible.
“I, Bramblestar, leader of ThunderClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. Finpaw has trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend him to you as a warrior in his turn.” Bramblestar nobly spoke. He turned his gaze to look at Finpaw directly. “Finpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life?”
“I do Bramblestar.” Finpaw answered.
“Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Finpaw, from this moment on you will be known as Finleap. StarClan honors your skill and great strenght, and we welcome you as a full warrior of ThunderClan.” Bramblestar finished.
The leader rested his muzzle on Finleap’s head, and the former apprentice licked the leader's shoulder.
“Finleap! Finleap! Finleap!” The Clan chanted. Ivypool beamed with pride for both the new warrior and her Clan. They had gained another strong warrior.
Chapter in Progress