Chapter 5 Love and Tragedy

It was around that time when I fell in love. The cat's name was Cactus. He wasn't the strongest, the biggest, or the quickest. He was the smartest. He was a schemer, like me. We first met as enemies. Or, I should say, our families met as enemies. I can't even remember what our families were squabbling about. Probably prey or something.

But I know he planned their strategy, because I planned ours. We outmaneuvered them, but we came very close to defeat. Two of them had cornered Berry, my blood brother. I almost streaked over to defend him, but I knew this would mess up our strategy. So I had to torture myself, and just watch. I will not say what happened to Berry. I will only say that he sent their furry hindquarters scurrying. Cactus snuck over to me. " Meet me at the broken oak at moonhigh." I was startled, not knowing what to say. He waited for me to answer. I decided to help him get out of our territory by any means possible. But then he was gone.

I decided to meet him at the broken oak. Something about him made him irresistible. I didn't know at the time, but it was love. The night we were to meet, I was waiting. I had gotten there early. As I waited, I thought about my decision. I wondered if this was the wisest choice. Probably not, but I wanted to meet him. Finally, he came. We talked. We had both seen that the other hadn't fought if they didn't need to. Neither of us admitted our true feelings. Until Cactus spoke up. "Cloud, the reason I wanted you to come here is so I can admit something: I love you." This statement surprised me. I'd always had more enemies than friends. Now, there was the possibility of a mate.

I was sneaking back into our den, when I saw Briar come in holding a bundle. She looked around for anyone watching but didn't see me. She quickly made her way to Hazel's nest. Hazel woke as Briar placed the bundle by her belly. She questioned Briar, but I was to far away to hear anything. I assumed that she'd found the kit in the woods. But, as hard as I tried, I couldn't convince myself. I asked Hazel about the kit. "Her name is Tiny. I will raise her as my own."

Reluctantly, I admitted to myself that I would have to ask Briar about the kit. "I found her in the woods." She said, looking at her paws. I didn't believe her. She was obviously lying. And I thought I knew the truth.

Meanwhile, I kept meeting Cactus at the oak. We looked at the stars and dreamed of a future together. No, I'm not kidding, that's what we did.

He knew Hazel's rule, but he didn't care. Then, the fire destroyed us. We were sitting by the oak tree when flames ripped through the forest. We ran, but then a falling tree separated us. "Cactus!" The scream tore itself out of my body, like a creature, clawing its way out of my throat.

I couldn't see him through the smoke and haze. I ran towards home, my eyes streaming because of soot and tears. I woke everyone up, made some excuse about night hunting, and ran for the stream. But, there was something no one could know, no one except him. But now, it was most likely that Cactus was gone, and that he was never coming back.

After the fire, I started to search for Cactus obsessively. Each day, I became more desperate. Meanwhile, Tiny was growing. She wasn't so tiny anymore. I think that, because I was the most reserved, I seemed to be the most powerful. How strange that when I was so weak, I looked so strong.

Tiny was always inquiring to what I was doing. The first few times I thought Briar had sent her. Then I realized I was getting quite paranoid and that she was genuinely curious. I told her I was searching for a cat lost in the fire. She asked whether she could search with me. I told her what Cactus looked like and sent her off. About an hour later, she was back. She told me that she hadn't seen anyone with the same description. I expected as much