Swallowtail swallowed nervously. She could not believe she was leaving her home, that all the Clans were leaving their homes.
She padded up to her mother, Dawnflower.
“Mother, is it true? Are we really leaving the forest?” Swallowtail asked.
Dawnflower looked at one of her oldest kits.
“Yes my dear, it is true, we are leaving tomorrow,” answered Dawnflower gravely.
Swallowtail’s ears twitched and she pushed her nose into her mother’s fur, wanting to be a kit again.
Dawnflower rasped her tongue over Swallowtail’s ears.
“It will be ok.”
“I don’t want to leave, Mother.”
“I know, me neither, but we must,” replied Dawnflower. “Now run along and find Blackclaw and see if you can go for one last swim.”
Swallowtail nodded and padded away, her tail drooping.
She ran into Hawkfrost. He held his head high.
“Hi Hawkfrost,” mumbled Swallowtail.
“Greetings Swallowtail, what's wrong?” inquired Hawkfrost.
Swallowtail looked at him, her eyes wide.
“I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave behind the river, our camp, everything, and I’m afraid,” admitted Swallowtail.
She expected the haughty warrior to say something brave and rude, but he looked at her warmly.
“I don’t want to go either - this is my home as well, I might never see my mother again,” meowed Hawkfrost, referring to his mother Sasha, who was a rogue. “And I am afraid as well."
Swallowtail looked at him.
“The big brave warrior, is afraid, oh my how things are changing!” joked Swallowtail.
“I’m off for one last swim, do you want to join me?” asked Swallowtail.
“Sure!” the tom replied.
“Race you!” mewed Swallowtail before sprinting toward the river.
Even though Hawkfrost was a strong and big cat, Swallowtail was quicker. She jumped up onto a rock and leapt into the river. The little wave splashed the clan deputy, Mistyfoot.
“Sorry, Mistyfoot,” apologized Swallowtail.
Mistyfoot just laughed.
“I was thinking of going for a swim later, but I have too many things to do. Remember, be back to camp before nightfall,” meowed Mistyfoot before padding off.
Swallowtail looked around for Hawkfrost, and then there was this giant splash. It sent Swallowtail tumbling under water. She surfaced and Hawkfrost was standing there grinning sheepishly.
“Your great oaf,” spat Swallowtail, water coming out of her mouth.
Hawkfrost just grinned.
Swallowtail's dark tabby fur was plastered to her body, showing how skinny she really was. Her ribs were showing through. She clambered out of the water, and she noticed how low the river was. It barely touched Hawkfrost’s belly fur.
“It’s become so low,” meowed Swallowtail sadly.
Hawkfrost sat down beside her, and gave her shoulder a couple of licks.
“It will be okay,” meowed Hawkfrost. Swallowtail just sighed, but then her ears twitched as she scented the air.
“ThunderClan patrol! They are coming this way!” exclaimed Swallowtail, jumping to her paws; Hawkfrost followed.
She and Hawkfrost dashed to the border. Sure enough, four cats padded out of the trees. Swallowtail recognized Squirrelflight, Brackenfur, a cat that looked a lot like Hawkfrost and a handsome dark gray tom. Brackenfur padded forward.
“Greetings, we have come to pass a message on to Leopardstar,” mewed Brackenfur politely.
“I will take it to her; you are not allowed on our territory,” Hawkfrost replied curtly. The tom that resembled him bristled.
“How can you think of boundaries at a time like this?” hissed the tom.
“Brambleclaw!” warned Brackenfur, but Brambleclaw ignored him.
“No matter what happens there will always be boundaries between the Clans,” replied Hawkfrost.
Brambleclaw hissed. Swallowtail caught Squirrelflight’s eyes and mouthed "Toms!"
Squirrelflight smiled and rolled her eyes.
The handsome gray tom thrust his way in between the two bristling cats.
“I can escort you to Leopardstar,” meowed Swallowtail, the gray tom flashed her a grateful look. Hawkfrost glared at her before whirling around and running across the river.
“Hawkfrost!” yowled Swallowtail, but he just kept running.
“Oh dear, follow me.”
Without another word, Swallowtail led the cats to camp.
“Stay here,” ordered Swallowtail before entering Leopardstar’s den. “Leopardstar, there are Thunderclan cats to see you.”
Leopardstar followed her out.
“What is it?”
“Firestar wants you to know, all the Clans will be meeting by the Thunderpath,” Brackenfur replied.
The gray tom smiled at Swallowtail again, and she felt her pelt grow hot. He really was handsome.
“Okay, we will meet him there. Mosspelt and Blackclaw will you escort them to the border,” ordered Leopardstar.
Swallowtail bid her goodbyes to Squirrelflight and saw Hawkfrost coming toward her.
“Look, Hawkfrost...” began Swallowtail but he just kept stalking away. Swallowtail let out an impatient sigh and padded toward the entrance in camp where Mosspelt was coming back.
“Mosspelt, do you wanna spend the night out here?” asked Swallowtail. "After all, it is our last night."
With that, Mosspelt and Swallowtail laid down under a fern. Swallowtail looked up at the sky. The only thing that she knew was that StarClan would be with her forever.
Swallowtail felt a paw in her rib. She opened her eyes. Hawkfrost was glaring down at her.
Swallowtail jumped up, giving her pelt a few licks.
“We’re leaving now,” Hawkfrost growled, before turning his back on her and stalked away. Swallowtail hissed in frustration. She turned and prodded Mosspelt with her paw.
“Hey, sleepy-head, get up,” meowed Swallowtail.
Mosspelt opened her eyes and jumped up.
“This is it!” mewed Mosspelt excitedly. Swallowtail just sighed and turned to camp. It was in chaos. Queens were rushing around to get their kits, Mistyfoot was barking orders, and Mothwing was rushing toward them with her eyes wide.
“I think Mudfur is dying!” exclaimed Mothwing. Swallowtail felt a pang in her heart. The elderly medicine cat couldn’t die, not when they needed him most. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Cinderpelt!” meowed Swallowtail “I’ll get Cinderpelt!”
“No you won’t,” hissed a voice beside her. Swallowtail whirled around to find Hawkfrost bristling. “RiverClan will not go to another Clan for help”.
Swallowtail’s fur stood up.
“I am going to go get Cinderpelt and you cannot stop me!” growled Swallowtail, enraged by his pompous behavior.
“Leopardstar said to hurry!” confirmed Mothwing. Swallowtail turned, but Hawkfrost was in her way.
“Yes!” yowled Swallowtail, losing her temper. She knocked him aside and dashed for the border. She heard Hawkfrost in pursuit of her, so she sped up.
She leapt over the border and ran into the handsome gray tom, bowling him over. Swallowtail fell onto her back.
She turned to see Hawkfrost hissing in anger on the RiverClan side. She turned to the tom to see him looking at her in amusement.
"I need to see Cinderpelt," panted Swallowtail desperately, her eyes wide. The tom nodded.
"Come on!" ordered the tom before leaping away. He led her through trees, and skidded to a stop.
Swallotail didn't think too much of the ThunderClan camp, too bushy. But she too panicked to care.
She ran through it, the tom by her side and he led her to the medicine den.
Cinderpelt was inside, sorting herbs, picking a few to give to certain cats.
"We need you Cinderpelt, Mudfur is dying!" the tom said. Cinderpelt opened her blue eyes wide and got to her feet at once.
Together, the cats ran to the RiverClan camp, or in Cinderpelt's case hobbled.
Cinderpelt was breathless and she ducked into Mudfur's den, "Stay out here with her Rainwhisker." she told the tom.
Rainwhisker...what a pretty name! Swallowtail thought. But she stopped herself. Because thinking like that could be dangerous.
She stood outside, awkwardly with Rainwhisker while Cinderpelt moved about inside the den and Mothwing tried her best to help between small whimpers and sobs.
Swallowtail was looking for somerthing, anything to distract her from the sorrow inside the medicine den when she spotted Hawkfrost. She was about to wave to him when she saw he was glaring at her and Rainwhisker, who was stil staring inside the medicine den, his eyes like chips of ice.
She followed his gaze and noticed Rainwhisker's tail on top of hers. She pulled her tail away, sighing. Why didn't I notice that earlier? Rainwhisker let out a small grunt when she pulled her tail away and Swallowtail felt herself feeling sorry. She wondered what was wrong with her and waved to Hawkfrost to show him it was all a mistake.
He growled and turned, stalking away.
Swallowtail wanted to have time to ponder this and how strange it was. But just then, Mistyfur emerged from Leopardstar's den with sorrow in her eyes but an excited smile on her face.
"Time to go!"
Swallowtail said good bye to Rainwhisker, promising him they'd walk together on the Journey, and watched him slip back into the forest. Even after he was gone she still watched the stop where he had dissappeared.
Finally she turned and padded back into camp.
She noticed Mothwing sitting outside the medicine den, small tears trickling down her pretty face.
Swallowtail ran over to her, knowing what had happened. "I'm so sorry."
"He was a great mentor! And a good friend! Why did he have to die?!" wailed Mothwing.
Swallowtail soothed her friend and looked around the clearing. Most cats were getting ready to go, saying good bye to dens and favorite places.
Hawkfrost broke away from the group and padded over to Swallowtail and his sister.
"Get the herbs Mudfur made Mothwing, it's fine. He's dead. We can mourn for him later. So get into action, we need those herbs." then he turned and marched away.
Mothwing ducked into the den and gathered the herbs, Swallowtail helped her carry them. She walked after the new medicine cat towards the Clan.
I'm sorry Mudfur is dead. And Im sorry you have such a horrible brother.
Swallowtail padded out of camp for the last time....oh no...she's forgotten to eat her traveling herbs! She ran back in and scarfed down the herbs in the empty camp. Then she padded back out, blushing. OK, now was the real last walk from camp. She rushed and padded over to where her mother and Mothwing were padding, side by side.
"Hey. I can't believe we're really leaving!" she exclaimed.
Dawnflower nodded and Mothwing gave a curt 'uh-huh', her eyes distent, probably grieving over Mudfur still.
Swallowtail was aobut to respond when a call stoppped her. She looked up and saw that the other Clans were waiting for them. She was embarressed for a moment, then stopped herself. They were late, so what?
Firestar, Leopardsar, Blackstar, and Onestar shared a few words, then they turned and led the Clans over towards WindClan territory. Swallowtail turned back to Mothwing.
"It's alright, Mudfur-" she stopped as she saw Rainwhisker in the crowd of ThunderClan cats. He caught her gaze and moved quickly towards her. She moved towards him to, eyes locked into his.
They met in the middle of a thick group of ShadowClan cats. Rainwhisker smiled and said something that Swallowtail couldn't hear over the noise.
"WHAT?!" she yelled, soft enough so no one heard, but loud enough for him to hear.
"I said, I missed you!" he yowled back, at the same noise level. Swallowtail felt her heart flutter.
"Really?" she was softer now. He nodded, needing no words.
"How sweet. I tihnk I'm gonna throw up.." the smug voice came form behind Swallowtail and she turned to see Hawkfrost glaring at her and the ThunderClan cat. "For StarClan's sake you're in different Clans! Swallowtal, come with me. You," he said nodding at Rainwhisker, "Go back to your forsaken cats."
Rainwhisker and Swallowtail just glowered at him and he glared back but eventually he muttered a curse and shuffled away to torment some apprentices. Rainwhisker laughed, "Is he that bad all the time?"
Swallowtail felt herself grow defensive of her Clanmate, "He can be great fun! And he's my friend!" I think...
Rainwhisker looked startled, then nodded, "I see."
Swallowtail felt horrible, wanting to take it all back. She was pretty sure Rainwhisker thought she and Hawkfrost were mates now and that was the last thing she wanted him to think. In a gentler tone she added, "But he was being really rude there. I'm sorry. You don't deserve...I mean he shouldn't have..." she was floundering now.
Rainwhisker grinned at her, "Apology accepted. So, can we walk together?"
Swallowtail nodded gratefully and padded next to him. They were in the back of the group now and they hurried to catch up with the lead cats.
The leaders called for a halt and the cats all stared at what used to be WindClan territory. Now only muddy, torn up moor land, and shouting Twolegs remained.
Swallowtail shot a glance at the WiundClan cats and saw that most of them just looked as sad and desperate and tired and hungry as ever. They've gotten so used to their home being destroyed they don't, can't care anymore....It was a painful thought.
She was still thinking about it when Firestar called for ThunderClan to run, Leopardstar quickly took up the call. The ShadowClan and windClan cats were slower, not moving as fast or reacting as quick, but running nevertheless.
Swallowtail was loving the running but hating the way her paws were sticking in the mud. Every few steps she would stop and yank her paws out and try to keep going. But she was tiring quickly. She had lost Rainwhisker in the crowd and now the Twolegs were noticing.
Suddenly she couldn't go anymore. Her paws were stuck and still sinking, up to her bely fur almost and she was trying to pull them out but so tired...
A shadow fell over her, casting her sweating body into sweet cool shade. But when she looked up it was the red face of an angry Twoleg she saw. She let out a shriek.
She crouched when no one ran to her aid, preparing to die or more likely be taken to Twoleg Place. But when nothing happened she opened her eyes and gaped at the sight.
Rainwhisker was scratching the Twoleg, clawing at his face and hissing. She was so surprised she just let herself sink into the mud and stayed here until Rainwhisker hissed, "Go!"
She started trying to free herself again and Rainwhisker left off the Twoleg and dragged her out, then she ran next to him, slipping and sliding across the mud.
I made it. She caught Rainwhisker's eye. Thanks to him.
All in all, the journey was over much too quick. And Swallowtail felt a jumble of brushing pelts, nights near him, padding on together, forword...always the two of them. She sighed. She didn't want to go back to the four Clans again.
Why couldn't you be in RiverClan Rainwhisker? It would've been easier....
Swallowtail grunted and turned to lay on her side. Lately, laying on her bulging belly had hurt. She was sure it was because for the first time in moons, everyone had had enough to eat on the journey.
The sun was blocked out of her vision and she looked up to see Rainwhisker's eyes gleaming with happiness.
"We're leaving now."
She sighed. Why'd he looks so happy? That just made things harder. "Then this is good-bye."
He shook his head and gave her ear a quick lick. "Not quite. Meet you back here at moon-high." he padded away. "Love you!"
She stared after him. This was forbidden! But...he loved her. He had said so! And she loved him...which must mean...
"I'm in love!" Swallowtail squealed.
"What? Who?" She spun around to see Mothwing looking at her.
"I thought you were giving out herbs and water."
"I was, but I'm taking a break." the medicine cat explaned. "So who's the lucky guy?" Before Swallowtail had the chance to answer, she squealed. "Oh! I know! It's Hawkfrost isn't it!"
Swallowtail snapped her eyes open and stopped praying that Mothwing hadn't guessed, "What???"
Mothwing brightly said, "Hawkfrost! He's always liked you! I thought you knew!"
Swallowtail thought back to the playfullness, then the anger when she was with Rainwhisker. And how she had snapped thorn sharp words back at him, scarring him deeper then any cat could know....
She flinched. "No. I didn't." And I was happy that way....
She padded off, seeing that both Rainwhisker and Hawkfrost were watching her.
The moonlight glimmered on the oak tree where they agreed to meet. He was already there, no surprise. She was taking so slow, not feeling like going quickly, but wanting to. And she had to eat before she left, she had been so hungry...
She stoped under the tree and Rainwhisker wrapped his tail around her, difficult because of her swollen belly. "I missed yu all today...it was so hard being away from you."
I know...it was so hard for me too....
The words nearly burst form her mouth, but she held them back, keeping silent. Tears of pain started to burn in her eyes.
Rainwhisker looked at her and noticed the tears, "What's wrong? Are-Are you crying?" His eyes were so scared and filled with concern, she thought about not going through with her plan. But she had to.
She shook her head then stopped the tears long enough to say, "I can't."
"I can't do it anymore Rainwhisker. I love you." his eyes brightened. "But..." she hated herself, the moonlight was cold on her pelt, her heart felt like it had been shattered. "This ends tonight."
She felt a horrible ache as she watched his face crumple into shards of pain and grief. "But...why?"
She swallowed. "You know why. We can never be together. It would hurt us, it would hurt our Clans, everyone we know.." Hawkfrost flashed through her mind and a tear fell to the ground.
"Nothing can hurt me more then this Swallowtail." he whispered the words.
"I won't ever forget you Rainwhisker. Not ever. Thank you, this...this was perfect. The best moon of my life." she turned.
His eyes were distressed, "Don't...please don't."
She turned and ran form under the oak tree, broke free of the tail he had curled around her.
Broke his heart.
And hers, probably.
It's for the best....she constantly reminded herself.
"Swallowtail!" Rainwhisker was shouting behind her, trying to catch up. But he kept stumbling, loosing her. "SWALLOWTAIL!"
She was away from him, up in a medow that was high on a hill, looking down at the oak tree and Rainwhisker. "I'm sorry." she whispered.
Then she turn and ran.
Rainwhisker watched the figure halt at the hill, look at him and he couldn't hear the words she said, but he knew what they would be. I'm sorry...
He watched her, blue eyes unreachable, murmering the words, "I won't ever forget...."