Wow it's been a long time since I updated... Sorry about that... And now we're moving on, because I get tired of apologizing for updating pretty late every chapter. Of course, I could fix that if I updated more often, but with all that's going on in my busy life that's just not a possibility.

So... moving on...

Let's see... Oh yeah. I finally got around to finishing the cover for this story. I know everyone can see it for themselves, but it's all a bit blurry, so let me explain it a bit more. The background is a forest with a river, but it's split into two halves: one is light and the other is dark. There are two gray cats' gazes blurred and crossfaded into the picture. On one side, the light side, there is Cinderheart. On the other side, the dark side, there is Cinderpelt. Or is it the other way around? Hmm... I'll let you guys figure that out for yourselves. What? What are you saying? Oops. Moving on before we get caught up on that...

Alright, this AN's long enough. Let's move along with the chapter before it gets any longer.


Chapter Three

Alone


Cinderheart opened her eyes. The familiar surroundings of the warriors' den should have been comforting, but they weren't. The warmth of Lionblaze's pelt should have been comforting, but it wasn't. In fact, it wasn't even there at all. Cinderheart turned over to find her suspicions were true. Lionblaze wasn't in his nest. Assuming Lionblaze was out on patrol, Cinderheart took the opportunity to lay in her nest and think things over. She immediately regretted it and jumped to her paws. She stood still and blinked a few times as she let the blood rush to her head settle in and numb.

Cinderheart padded out of the warriors' den. It was only dawn. Cinderheart decided it was too early to wake her new apprentice. She was about to pad over to the fresh-kill pile, but she stopped herself as her eyes moved over to the camp entrance. Birchfall, Whitewing, Hazeltail, Mousewhisker, and Toadstep were gathered. Cloudtail was speaking with them. Cinderheart was surprised when Birchfall, Whitewing, Hazeltail, Mousewhisker, and Toadstep left, leaving Cloudtail to guard the camp entrance. Curious, Cinderheart padded over to him.

"Hey, Cinderheart," Cloudtail meowed to her.

"Hello, Cloudtail," Cinderheart replied, dipping her head to her former mentor. "Where are they going?"

"The ShadowClan border," Cloudtail replied.

"Oh." They're the dawn patrol! Well, now I feel really stupid... But wait, where's Lionblaze?

"Cinderheart, are you alright?" Cloudtail asked her worriedly.

"Fine," Cinderheart replied distractedly. "Have you seen Lionblaze?"

"Earlier he went out for a walk," Cloudtail replied. "May I assume you want to find him?"

"Yep," Cinderheart replied to her former mentor.

"Try the lake," Cloudtail advised her. "He goes to the lake a lot when everyone else is sleeping."

"Thanks," Cinderheart meowed.


One Walk Later...


Cinderheart looked through the bushes and gasped. Lionblaze was indeed at the lake, but he wasn't alone. Out of all cats he could have been with, he was with Icecloud. Cinderheart briefly noticed how convenient it was that there was no wind at the moment to give away her scent.

"Lionblaze, can you really trust Cinderheart? She's a reincarnation! Do you even know what that means?" Icecloud asked sternly. Cinderheart's blood froze as she comprehended what Icecloud was saying.

"Do you?" Lionblaze countered.

"Wh-what?" Icecloud stammered.

"Cinderheart may be Cinderpelt's reincarnation, but that doesn't mean she's the same cat," Lionblaze chastised.

"Definitely not!" Icecloud agreed. "Cinderheart will never match the honor and courage Cinderpelt had!"

"You never knew Cinderpelt!" Lionblaze snapped.

"Neither did you!" Icecloud retorted back. "What I'm saying is..."

"I think you need to leave now," Lionblaze growled.

"Well, I don't, so I'm going to continue with what I was saying..."

"Go!" Lionblaze hissed. "Get out of my sight!"

"But—"

"Icecloud, I chose Cinderheart! Get over it!" Lionblaze snarled.

Icecloud turned to pad away, but she quickly turned back. "I just want you to know that I'll never stop waiting for you. Once you see the danger in her that I see, you'll understand. When she hurts you, I'll be ready to comfort you and take you in."

"Cinderheart will never hurt me. I will never hurt her. That's what love is about," Lionblaze meowed.

"Don't be so certain," Icecloud meowed coldly.

"You're different," Lionblaze meowed.

"Really?" Icecloud asked hopefully.

"I don't mind hurting you," Lionblaze meowed coldly. "Now leave me and my mate alone!"

Iceecloud's blue eyes widened. This time she didn't hesitate to run away.

Sighing in relief, Cinderheart padded out into the open after making sure Icecloud was truly gone.

"Cinderheart!" Lionblaze exclaimed. "How much of that did you hear?" he asked worriedly.

"Enough," Cinderheart replied gruffly.

"What you just saw was..."

"An argument," Cinderheart cut in. "I know that nothing happened between you two except for a lot of growling and hissing. Relax, Lionblaze. Don't you know that I trust you?"

"Well, yeah, but..."

"Then stop worrying," Cinderheart meowed. Besides, that's my job...

"Cinderheart?" Lionblaze asked tentatively.

"Yes?" Cinderheart replied.

"Forgive me for asking you this, but... do you think we'll ever have kits?"

"What?" Cinderheart was completely caught off guard by the question.

"Well, it's just... I've been an apprentice, a warrior, a mentor, and even deputy, but I've never been a father. I'd like to be a father some day. I feel like I need to. Neither Hollyleaf nor Jayfeather will have kits. I almost feel like I owe it to them..." Lionblaze trailed off.

"I want to be a mother some day," Cinderheart admitted, "but I'm not sure I can be."

"Of course you can!" Lionblaze exclaimed. "You'll make a great mother!"

"But... Cinderpelt..."

"Never got to have kits, either," Lionblaze reminded her. "Besides, I fell in love with Cinderheart, not Cinderpelt. I love you, Cinderheart. Not the cat you were born a reincarnation of. None of us can control how we were born. You and I should know that better than any other cat!"

Cinderhaert padded over to the edge of the lake and sat down next to Lionblaze. His words had comforted her, but she couldn't bring herself to respond. If I only have a moon left to live, then that means I can never have kits... Cinderheart let her head drop as the words settled in to her own mind. Lionblaze will never be a father like he wants to be... Cinderheart's eyes suddenly widened. Unless he has kits with someone else...

Cinderheart shakily stood to her paws. He'll never be truly happy with me.

"Cinderheart, are you okay?" Lionblaze asked.

Besides, after one moon, I won't even be here for him...

"Cinderheart?"

Oh StarClan,... In order to make him happy, I have to push him away, don't I?

"Cinderheart!"

Cinderheart jerked out of her thoughts. "Sorry..."

"Are you okay?" Lionblaze asked her worriedly.

"Yeah... Sorry, I was distracted. I had a bad dream, that's all," Cinderheart meowed.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Lionblaze asked gently.

"...No," Cinderheart decided.

"Fair enough," Lionblaze meowed. "Take your time." He got to his paws. "You can stay here. I need to get back to camp and organize the rest of the patrols."

"Okay," Cinderheart meowed simply.

Lionblaze waited for a farewell before leaving, but Cinderheart never gave it to him. She just sat back down and stared at the reflection of the rising sun in the lake. Sighing, Lionblaze padded away in defeat.

I can't bring myself to tell him... Cinderheart thought sadly. I want nothing more than to be able to tell him, but I can't. My sorrow shouldn't cost him his happiness. I won't let it. I don't want to hurt him, but I will hurt him. If I tell him, it'll hurt him. If I don't, it'll hurt him. I'm going to die in a moon. Lionblaze is going to lose me.

Cinderheart let her head droop down.

I'm sure Icecloud won't hesitate to steal him when I'm gone... My life is falling apart... How in the name of StarClan did Cinderpelt do it? And not go mad?

Cinderpelt closed her eyes.

Thanks to you, StarClan, I'm all alone...


Meanwhile, Elsewhere...


The time is coming, she thought to herself. The time is almost here.

The dark gray she-cat climbed up onto the tree stump in order to get her paws of of the wet, disgusting marshes and mud, even if only for a moment.

I only have to wait one more moon. Then I will be free.

The dark gray she-cat sighed as she looked around. No one was there. No one was in the Dark Forest. As far as she knew, all of the Dark Forest members had been killed in the war. That meant that she was the only current member.

I don't belong here. But I have been put here. I will get my revenge!

The dark gray she-cat purred as she thought of the pain and misery she would bring to those who should have and could have helped her but didn't. Her happiness was gone as fast as it had come, replaced with sadness. She flattened her ears in disappointment.

Thanks to you, StarClan, I'm all alone...


And that's a wrap! I don't think that's a cliffhanger, but hell if I know. The ending is sort of an ending to a chapter, but it leaves a lot unanswered. I hope I don't have to point out whose POV it was at the end, but if you didn't figure it out this chapter you'll know for certain by the end of next chapter.

I'm going to put this out there before anyone can even ask. No, I am not going to spend a few chapters for filler of all the pain Cinderheart is in as her sickness develops. Instead, next chapter is going to start one moon later. Next chapter will be Cinderheart's last day... or will it be? You'll just have to wait to find out!

Cinderheart sure is surrounded by problems. The cat she is the reincarnation of is dead, she just got a new apprentice, and there is another she-cat making rude and desperate attempts to steal her mate. Not exactly a good time to be dying... Not that any time is a good time to die, but I'm just saying this is especially a bad time to be dying... Well, for Cinderheart, anyway...

Nevertheless, I digress into making less and less sense with each word I speak... or type in this case...

Well, I can't think of anything else to say at the moment nor do I want to bore you with an extremely long AN, so I'll cut this off here. See you next time!

~Icy