Disclaimer: I do not own Warriors, Spottedleaf, or lots of other characters. But I do own Nala, my kittypet! Hurrah!

Prologue of One Leaf Left: A Rough Beginning

A shadow moved across the medicine cat's den, giving only a shred of light on the poor kit. The queen's face was taut with worry, and she looked down, gray tail flicking anxiously back and forth. "How is the kit?" she whispered.

The tom's gruff voice echoed between the cracks in the rock. "Not well. I've given her tansy for the cough, marigold for her slight chill, bramble twigs for sleep, and burdock root for her infection, but still, she is not calm." He nodded toward her, twitching his scarred, ripped ears. The blue-gray cat stared closer at the tortoiseshell kit, whose side was bound in bloody cobwebs and a burdock poultice. She twitched and squeaked, sounding as if she was repeatedly being jabbed in the paw with a sharp thorn.

"Have you tried poppy seed for the pain?" she asked. He shook his head.

"I've been distracted, and I forgot." He rummaged through his supplies, came up with a poppy head, and shook two out. He got the queen's help to open the kit's mouth and deposit the seeds. "Thank you, Bluestar. You may go now."

Bluestar dipped her head. "You are welcome, Limpingfoot. Would you like me to bring you some fresh-kill?" He nodded. "Alright." She slipped sleekly through the ferns into the open part of camp, where most everyone was sleeping, except for a brown reddish-tailed warrior. He kept a steady eye on the camp while watching Bluestar with the other.

"Is everything alright with Dappletail's kit?" Redtail mewed, hopping off the Highrock and coming down to join his leader. She was about to reply when two voices came from the nursery.

"Hush! You'll wake the whole Clan." It was Dappletail.

"But Dappletail! I want to see Spottedkit." It was Willowkit, the injured kit's sister. An irritated hiss erupted from the mother.

"Limpingfoot has his paws full enough without an annoying kit breathing down his neck and getting in the way. Now go to bed." Dappletail was very cautious of her brother, who couldn't run after being born without a paw on his left hind leg. She, being the firstborn, felt the need to protect him, although they were grown.

Bluestar chuckled, amused, and found a nice, fat sparrow for Limpingfoot. She trotted across camp with the bony wings in her teeth, pushed through the ferns, and dropped it at the medicine cat's feet. He nodded his thanks and went back to watching Spottedkit while plucking the feathers out of his sparrow.

"How is Sandkit?" she asked, coming back to Redtail, who had lain down and was yawning rather drowsily. Redtail had quickly fallen for Mousefur, at the time Mousepaw, although her brother Runningwind had hated the match. Together they had brought Sandkit into the world, a beautiful sand-colored she-cat, though no one could explain how she got that color.

"She's fine. Mousefur thinks she could become the best hunter in the Clan, the way she sneaks up on innocent crickets and bites their heads off." Redtail shared a mrrow of laughter with the leader.

"She shows great potential," agreed Bluestar. Her whiskers twitched. "I just wish Spottedkit hadn't been attacked by that fox. Patchpelt and Whitepaw are still patching up the hole. Longkit was lucky; he just got scratched."

"Yes. Shouldn't he be apprenticed about now?" he meowed, cocking his head. Bluestar nodded, flicking her tail and eyeing the nursery.

"Probably so. I'll arrange for his apprentice ceremony in the morning. It'll be at sunhigh. Come on, now, Redtail. Get some rest."

"Yes, Bluestar." He stood and walked into the warriors' den, curling up in his nest next to Mousefur's unoccupied one.

Bluestar wandered into the nursery, examining the hole. It had one large gap, so she darted away and found a fern. Quickly she uprooted the plant, hurried back to the nursery, and shoved it in the hole. "That will do for now," she murmured. "But I wonder what will do for Spottedkit." A sudden thought of Oakheart flashed through her mind; her stomach rolled, her head spun, and her throat ached with guilt. Then another thought, of Thistleclaw, rolled in, and her heart pierced with rage. She'd always hated the far-too-ambitious cat, and now he had a son, Tigerpaw.

Tigerpaw seemed friendly enough, just a wee ambitious, like his father. He was loyal and determined, and wouldn't give up till he did it right. Maybe someday he'd be a good leader. You shall see, laughed a voice in her head.

Startled, Bluestar sprinted to her den to sleep.