Well, this is it. The end of Zero Two. The epilogue. It feels strange, but it feels nice at the strange time. This is the second story that I have finished from start to finish. I'm kind of proud of myself for it, actually.
I hope nobody is disappointed by the ending. I know that a lot of readers were kind of disappointed by the ending of Running Up That Hill, but I feel like the ending for this story fits pretty well. Honestly, Cinderpelt's and Cinderheart's parts to play in this story are over, so now it's just time to end the story. It's actually going to be a sweet, happy epilogue.
Well, without further ado, I'll let you get to it.
"Do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
"I do," a ginger tabby tom meowed.
"I do," a ginger-and-brown she-cat meowed.
"I do," a brown-and-white tabby she-cat meowed.
"Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your warrior names in return. Emberpaw, from this moment on you will be known as Emberstripe. StarClan honors you for your strength and bravery. Pyrepaw, from this moment on you will be known as Pyrefoot. StarClan honors you for your courage and thoughtfulness. Echopaw, from this moment on you will be known as Echoheart. StarClan honors you for your loyalty and determination."
"Emberstripe! Pyrefoot! Echoheart! Emberstripe! Pyrefoot! Echoheart!"
Cats started crowding around the three newly named warriors, congratulating them on moving up from apprentices to warriors. Of course everyone would be congratulating them; they were the leader's kits.
"Squirrelflight, you must be very proud of your kits."
The white she-cat turned her head. A dark ginger she-cat was talking to her golden tabby mate.
"For real this time," the golden tabby tom added.
"I am very proud of them, Lionblaze. Don't forget, I'm still very proud of you. Even though you aren't my son anymore, you are still my niece, and even if we weren't related, I would still be proud of you," Squirrelflight added.
"Even though Leafpool gave birth to me, you know that you are my real mother, Squirrelflight," Lionblaze meowed.
Squirrelflight opened her jaws to say something, but Lionblaze stopped her.
"Enough of this, Squirrelflight. Why don't you go and congratulate our Clan's newest warriors? The kits you gave birth to? I've been around for much longer than they have; they deserve your attention," Lionblaze meowed. He turned to walk away, but this time Squirrelflight stopped him.
Lionblaze turned around.
"Yes, Squirrelflight?" he asked.
"I'm proud of all of my kits. Emberstripe, Pyrefoot, Echoheart, Jayfeather, you... and even Hollyleaf," Squirrelflight added. "Never forget that, Lionblaze."
Lionblaze sighed. "I never do."
Alright, it's time for me to go in there and save him, the white she-cat thought. She padded up to stand next to her golden tabby mate.
"It'll be our turn, next," she meowed.
"Hey, Icecloud," Lionblaze meowed.
"She's right, you know," Squirrelflight meowed to her niece. "Next time it'll be your turn."
"I'm sure our kits will be great warriors," Lionblaze agreed. He turned to face Icecloud. "Won't they be?"
"Of course they will be," Icecloud meowed. "We named our kits after two of the best warriors we've ever known; our kits are going to have the same success as their namesakes. Besides," Icecloud added, "they're our kits."
"She's got a point, Lionblaze," Squirrelflight meowed. "Kits of one of the Three. I wonder if they have any of your powers."
"Of course they do," Lionblaze meowed. "They both enjoy battle training the best."
"Only because they're really good at thinking," Icecloud put in. "They always enjoy a challenge."
"Don't they, though?" Lionblaze purred in amusement. "Even as kits, they'd always think about something before doing it. If they got caught trying to get out of camp, they'd come up with a reason for leaving that no warrior could disagree with. They got a lot of exceptions as kits, but not because they're my kits, it was always because they had a way with words that no one could argue with!"
"I'll be excited to see what they do as warriors," Icecloud agreed. "Besides, they have excellent mentors."
"Lilypetal desperately wanted to mentor Cinderpaw," Lionblaze meowed reminiscently.
"I'm really glad she got to mentor her. Lilypetal made sure that Cinderpaw would learn everything there was that she could teach her," Icecloud meowed.
"I'm glad you're pleased with the mentor choices," Squirrelflight meowed. "I may or may not have put in some suggestions."
"Hollypaw loves having Ivypool as her mentor," Lionblaze meowed.
"I'm sure she does," Squirrelflight meowed. "Every kit wanted Ivypool to be their mentor, but Ivypool insisted on mentoring one of your kits."
Icecloud twitched her ear at the sound of Bramblestar's voice.
"Well, that's my call," Squirrelflight meowed. "See you later."
"See you," Icecloud meowed as Squirrelflight walked away from them.
"I feel sorry for her. That's a really big crowd," Lionblaze retorted.
"It'll be our turn next," Icecloud meowed.
"That's kind of scary," Lionblaze meowed.
"We've dealt with much worse," Icecloud reminded him.
"True," Lionblaze muttered.
"Do you miss being deputy?" Icecloud asked curiously.
"A bit," Lionblaze replied honestly, "but it's Squirrelflight's position. I was just filling in while she took care of her kits, who have turned into three great warriors."
"Our kits will be great warriors, too," Icecloud reminded him.
"Where are Cinderpaw and Hollypaw, anyway?" Lionblaze asked.
"Congratulating our three newest warriors," Icecloud replied.
"Hmm," Lionblaze muttered. "We'll leave them to it."
"I guess so," Icecloud agreed.
Icecloud blinked. Two moons had passed by since Bramblestar's kits had become warriors. Now it was her turn to be the parent of the Clan's newest warriors.
"Do you promise to uphold and protect the warrior code, even at the cost of your life?" Bramblestar asked.
"I do," Cinderpaw meowed.
"I do," Hollypaw meowed.
"Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your warrior names in return. Cinderpaw, from this moment on you will be known as Cinderblaze. StarClan honors you for your bravery and determination. Hollypaw, from this moment on you will be known as Hollythorn. StarClan honors you for your loyalty and thoughtfulness."
"Cinderblaze! Hollythorn! Cinderblaze! Hollythorn!"
Icecloud ran up to be the first one to greet her kits.
"Congratulations!" she meowed excitedly.
"Thanks," Cinderblaze meowed.
"We couldn't have done it without you," Hollythorn meowed.
"Of course not," Cinderblaze agreed. "You're the best mother ever!"
Icecloud purred in amusement. "Thanks."
"And Lionblaze is the best father ever!" Hollythorn meowed.
"Absolutely!" Cinderblaze agreed.
"That means a lot to me," Lionblaze meowed. "You know that I'm very proud of you both. You're going to be the best warriors ThunderClan has ever seen. I know you are."
"Second-best," Hollythorn corrected him.
"After you, of course," Cinderblaze meowed.
Icecloud purred in amusement. "You are one of the Three," she reminded her mate.
"Oh, enough of that," Lionblaze meowed. "When is everyone going to let that go?" he muttered.
"Never," Icecloud teased him.
"Hey!" Lionblaze exclaimed.
Cinderblaze and Hollythorn purred in amusement.
"Hey! How about letting someone else through to congratulate the newest warriors?" Dovewing teased as she padded up to greet them.
"Hello, Dovewing," Lionblaze meowed.
"Congratulations, Cinderblaze and Hollythorn!" Dovewing exclaimed.
"Thanks!" the two sisters replied.
"Of course, you know I'm proud of you," Ivypool meowed. "I had to see you all day, every day, for the past six moons. You'd know if I wasn't proud."
"Ivypool, be nice!" Dovewing meowed.
"They know I"m just teasing," Ivypool meowed, purring in amusement.
More and more cats came over to congratulate the newest warriors of ThunderClan. Icecloud and Lionblaze stayed close at first, but eventually they stepped back to let the crowd settle in.
Icecloud watched as her kits were greeted warmly by the Clan. This was a feeling that Icecloud vowed to never forget.
Icecloud looked up at the sky.
I know that I wouldn't have this opportunity if it weren't for you, so thank you, she couldn't help but think. She looked back down at her kits. They were basking in the moonlight. Their vigil would begin soon.
I know that I'm only his second choice, but I'm okay with that. Being able to be his mate, and being able to be the mother of two warriors... that's plenty enough for me. I've never forgotten you, though, not for one moment. Since you're not here anymore, I'll take care of everyone for you, I promise. I'll take care of Cinderblaze and Hollythorn... Poppyfrost... Lilypetal... Jayfeather and Lionblaze... I promise to take care of everyone for you, so...
"You want to eat something before we go to sleep?" Lionblaze asked kindly, nudging her with one paw.
"Sure," Icecloud replied, "although I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep. I think I'm as excited as Cinderblaze and Hollythorn are, if not more!"
"I feel the same way," Lionblaze admitted.
Icecloud and Lionblaze purred in amusement as they padded over to the fresh-kill pile. Icecloud picked out a shrew. She closed her eyes, finishing her prayer to StarClan before eating.
So... thank you for everything. Thank you, Cinderheart.
Even though she's been dead for about a year now, her memory still lives on in the Clans. I wasn't sure how it'd be writing the epilogue in Icecloud's POV, but I think it's turned out alright. Oh, and before anyone asks, no, Cinderblaze is not a third gen reincarnation or anything, she's just named after Cinderheart. Yes, that means this does not make room for a sequel. Sorry, but this is the end of Zero Two. I like where I have ended it and I am keeping it that way.
I hope you have enjoyed reading Zero Two. It's been a fun story to write. Sure, the updates weren't very frequent at first, but they got a lot better throughout the latter half of the story. I'm very pleased with how it turned out and I hope you are, too.
Maybe I'll see you again some day with another story, but then again, maybe I won't. Either way, I wish you the best of luck in anything and everything from here on out.
Eh... I suck at goodbyes... Although, if I may say, I thought Cinderheart's goodbye with Lionblaze was very touching. I was proud of myself for that scene.
Anyways, I wish you the best of luck! May StarClan light your path!