There's something wonderful about helping the clan. Herbs, wafting sickly sweet into her nose, tasting bitter on her tongue, healing even the deepest gashes - she adores the feeling of self-satisfaction, of realizing her endless skill saved yet another life.

But there were times she lost lives, too. There were the times she wished she never wanted to become a medicine cat.

There were times she longed for Raggedstar, yet she told not a soul.

His eyes were the color of spring-time grass, when the pale sun baked the earth. They shone like stars when he smiled, and his fur was sleek and warm, like flames that gave him his name.

When he looked at her, his entire face lit up, and she wondered if she meant more to him than a friend and former apprentice.

She would take a look at the den she laid in, at the herbs strewn about at her paws, and know without saying a word that she'd pushed him away for her Clan.

Sandstorm was always a better mate for him, anyway.

She always knew, since she was a little kit, that being a medicine cat was her destiny. StarClan whispered to her sleeping ears, guiding her paws on that path from the moment she could walk. She learned much from Cinderpelt and endured each tiny pain with patience and calmness.

When she fell in love, her careful exterior melted, and she was a frightened, spontaneous cat with nothing to lose. She ran away from her Clan when they needed her most. Her medicine cat life was far behind her, and her own fate lay in Crowfeather's eyes.

She had to come back. StarClan knew she was never meant to wander alone; her life lay in the scent of herbs and the healing wounds of her Clanmates.

When she lost that privilege forever, along with the ability to love her kits, she wondered if life was really worth living at all, or if StarClan was wrong when they lead her paws to the medicine cat den. Perhaps she would have been better off running away for the rest of her life.

He'd never wanted to be a medicine cat. From the first time his eyes opened, he was sure he wanted to be a warrior, to fight and protect his Clan for all his days. He didn't know he'd be forced into early apprenticeship by Brokenstar, or suffer the claws of battle so soon.

When sickness tore his Clan apart, he did only what he knew was best, and sought help from ThunderClan. Cinderpelt found him. She slowly nursed him back to health, despite the risk she was taking.

Cinderpelt saved his life.

He knew from then on that his life was set in the path of medicine; he would not have it any other way.

She'd been a warrior for the majority of her life, with a warrior name and mindset, forever knowing she'd fight to the death for her Clan. It wasn't until she saw Mudfur working until his paws were numb with exhaustion to save a kit who nearly drowned in the river. She became awed by the way he fought, in a different way than a warrior. He fought in a way that was intangible but true to the heart.

Even though she was a born rogue, she knew she wanted to be a medicine cat. She wanted to memorize each herb, commit each poultice to mind, and know exactly what to do in times of danger. What better way to serve her Clan? Why limit herself to tooth and claw?

Hawkfrost never understood why she wanted this, and even she didn't quite know. It was only when StarClan confirmed her place as Mudfur's apprentice, with the sign of the moth's wing, that she truly believed it was her fate.

Hawkfrost ripped away that belief when he told her the truth - the wing had only been placed there for his own malicious demands.

And, even if she knew she was illegitimately the apprentice, and even if she knew StarClan was a lie, she still was determined to serve her Clan. She wanted to fight in a different way than Hawkfrost could, and prove him wrong for the rest of her life: she was meant to do this.

Being a medicine cat was the worst fate he could fathom. He longed for the destiny of a warrior, to slash and bite and tear at flesh for the sake of his Clan. He wanted to defend the littlest kits and the oldest elders. He wanted to be respected and revered for his skill.

He was doomed from the start, it seemed, and although he tried desperately for a chance at the path of a warrior, it was never going to work. Leafpool told him it was his fate. StarClan needed him as a medicine cat.

It angered him to no end that he was forced to a life of tedious chores and herb-scents that caused aches in his heart. He hated the complaints of warriors as he ungraciously slapped poultices on their wounds, or the wailing of timid kits as he urged them to eat juniper.

He hated everything about being a medicine cat, but for the rest of his life, he would have to endure. His destiny wasn't what he quite wanted, what he quite wished for, but it was all he could do. Knowing he had power beyond rational belief helped make the most annoying tasks a bit more bearable.

He loves medicine.

He'd loved everything about it since he was little, helping Barkface battle greencough as a kit running errands for him. He was always a little too curious, his head full of clouds, to ever focus too hard on being a warrior apprentice. He had a love for the simpler things, like the trill of a finch in the trees. Naturally a pacifist, it was only a matter of the time before he ended in the medicine cat den.

He was never going to be anything but a medicine cat, and he never felt put down by his tasks at hand; he enjoyed even the worst parts of being a medicine cat.

It especially warmed his heart when he helped a queen during her birthing, knowing that life would eventually go on when he was long gone after a fulfilled life.

She always got her way. Naturally beautiful and cunning, Crookedstar melted into a puddle when she requested anything of him, be it to lower warrior patrols or for an apprentice to help her.

It was this command over others that made her happy to be a medicine cat. Warriors and apprentices alike would follow her every whim with wide-eyed stares, respecting and revering her without a choice to do otherwise. She was in control as a medicine cat.

When she died, she thought over her life as RiverClan's medicine cat, and decided that she'd like it very much if he name was carried on through the Clans. Crookedstar promised it would be so, and she died rather peacefully in her sleep, after a long life of service.

He regretted the day he asked to be Yellowfang's apprentice. It wasn't that the short-tempered she-cat was an awful mentor, or even that they never got along, for they did so quite easily. It was only when Yellowfang was banished that he hated being a medicine cat.

Brokenstar forced him to interpret messages that made no sense, and the actual messages from StarClan read far different warnings of destruction from within. For a time, it seemed that Brokenstar's exile meant peace for him.

When he was forced to bear the secret of Nightstar's illegitimate leadership, he found his life much more of a burden than a privilege.

It would take many seasons for him to appreciate his service to the Clan, as he reflected in the elder's den.