AN: I'm sorry for the long wait. All the plot bunnies hid in their burrows and wouldn't come out. Thankfully, they took pity on me and left me this as a Christmas present.
Thanks to Razordark, Chene, Green Shadow XG-GSXG, Wildstar of Windclan, Cloverdapple, rosepetal, echofall, Iceshadow911247, rainlow, Midnight of the star, and Dragonclaw11 for reviewing; it really helps with the shyer bunnies. Thanks to everyone for their patience and I'm sure I'm boring you, so on to the story!
Iceshadow911247: No, it is not supposed to be like Harry Potter.
Pairings: FirexSand, BramblexSquirrel, LeafxCrow
Disclaimer: Well, Christmas has come and I didn't get the rights to Warriors; but there's always next year.
Firestar stood, looking at the building in which this year's dance was being held. It reminded him so much of his first ball as a full craftsman, all those years ago. A hand on his arm reminded him that things had changed, no matter how similar they seemed.
He turned to look at the owner of the hand. His mate, Sandstorm, wearing a darker than usual red dress, was standing waiting while he collected his thoughts.
"Ready?" she asked.
"With you by my side, always," he replied.
She smiled at the bit of flattery and they entered together. Almost instantly, Brambleclaw, Firestar's second, appeared, with a grip on Cloudtail.
"He was spiking the punch, Firestar," Brambleclaw said, by way of explanation.
Firestar looked sternly at Cloudtail. "I believe Brightheart has told you that you are not to spike the drinks. Now you get the lovely experience of telling her exactly what you've done. You can let him go, Brambleclaw."
His second looked at him like he was crazy. "But he'll just go and do it again."
"Brightheart won't let him." Firestar assured him. He craned to look over Brambleclaw's shoulder. "And it looks like you need to rescue the damsel in distress."
Brambleclaw turned around, releasing his hold on Cloudtail, to see Squirrelflight dancing with Ashfur, throwing desperate looks their way.
Sandstorm had to smother a laugh. Ashfur might be a good smith, but he was a horrible dancer. Judging by the pained look on Squirrelflight's face, he was stomping on her toes. Brambleclaw quickly made his way over and tapped Ashfur's shoulder, presumably asking to cut in. Squirrelflight breathed a sigh of relief once Ashfur's back was turned and she was in Brambleclaw's arms.
Firestar turned to his mate. "There's still time before I must give my speech. Will you dance with me?"
"Of course, Firestar," Sandstorm answered, slipping her hand into his.
They slipped easily into the dance. Though it was fast, it was one of Sandstorm's favorites and neither needed to think much about the steps, leaving them free to observe others. Firestar spotted Graystripe dancing with Millie, the mate he'd brought with him when he'd come back after being kidnapped. For an instant, as the crowd shifted, he caught sight of Leafpool.
When his dance with Sandstorm ended, he went to find his daughter. She was still standing in the same place, lacking a partner.
Though she and Squirrelflight were twins, they were very different. Squirrelflight was a risk taker and stood out easily in the green dress that brought put her eyes. Leafpool was more cautious and less talkative than her sister. She was wearing a light brown dress the color of warm earth that did not stand out vibrantly like her sister's spot of color.
"Will you dance with me?" he asked her. Leafpool nodded and they made their way back onto the dance floor. Leafpool leaned against her father as they danced, as she had when she was younger and needed emotional support.
"How are things going?" he asked, worried about her.
"Fine," she assured him, "Brightheart's eye is acting up again, but other than the usual cases of burns and scratches, there hasn't been a major injury in several weeks. Cinderpelt would call this 'the calm before the storm' and stock up our supplies." Her voice shook when she said her mentor's name. Even though it had been several years since Cinderpelt died, Leafpool still fiercely missed her old mentor.
Too busy comforting his daughter, Firestar didn't notice when someone walked up, so he jumped when someone tapped him on the shoulder and asked in a gruff voice if they could cut in.
Firestar turned and inspected this newcomer. He knew that it was a member of the Weaver Guild and that his name was Crowfeather, but not much else. What stood out most were his piercing blue eyes, which were now fixed on Leafpool with an expression in them that Firestar recognized from when Sandstorm looked at him.
He smiled and nodded, twirling his daughter into Crowfeather's arms. "Take good care of her," he muttered in the other male's ear as he went by.
Crowfeather met his gaze evenly. "I will," he said, and Firestar could hear the determination to do so in his words.
He glanced back once and smiled at the looks of love on their faces. His daughters deserved a chance at the happiness he'd found and if only a male in another Guild could give that to them, then so be it.
As he made his way off the floor, he glanced up at the clock. There was time for one more dance before the speeches would be given. When the first strains started he knew whom he wanted as his partner for this dance.
He quickly found who he was looking for and approached. "May I have this dance?" he asked.
Cinderpaw looked up at him and stood, placing her hand in his. "You may."
They went onto the floor and Firestar put one hand on her shoulder blade and took hers in his other. As they danced, part of his mind was on making sure he didn't step on the apprentice's toes, but another part was comparing her to another apprentice, who had danced with him to this very song. The Cinderpaw in his arms now and the Cinderpaw of twenty years ago were identical. This Cinderpaw was wearing a blue-gray dress, rather than a grey one and had no bandages on her arm, but they could've been the same person.
"Is there something on your mind?" Cinderpaw asked suddenly.
Firestar started out of his reverie. "Sorry, lost in my memories."
Cinderpaw looked at him with knowing blue eyes, identical to those of Leafpool's mentor, Cinderpelt. She sensed that he wasn't telling her everything, but decided not to pursue it.
When the dance ended, Firestar excused himself and made his way to the stage, where Leopardstar was already standing. Blackstar had already joined her by the time Firestar got there and Onestar was making his way through the crowd and Firestar hesitated a moment to allow his old friend to join him as they climbed the stairs.
After a short whispered conversation, it was decided that Onestar would go first. Leopardstar went next, and then it was his turn.
As he scanned the crowd quickly, he spotted Crowfeather, a rare smile across his features; tugging Leafpool out into the garden. Brambleclaw and Squirrelflight were conversing in whispers with Brambleclaw's sister, Tawnypelt. Cloudtail was standing next to Brightheart, looking sheepish.
So many familiar faces, so few now from the old city, but still his Guild; and he would do his best to protect them with all he had. He opened his mouth and began.
"The Metalsmith Guild has done well this year…"
AN2: Well, I hope you liked it. While trying to write this chapter, I discovered that it's harder for me to write a leader's POV than a warrior's. And, yes, I know I've distorted the timeline, I couldn't get it to work otherwise.