Sorry I was gone. On vacation again. Now I'm back in time for the school year... heh.

One more chapter after this!

Bob jones: X3 I agree!

Foreststar of WindClan: Hmm I made that obvious did I? ^^"

Frostdawn: ~u~

berkswarrior: Lol thanks!

Robinfeather of Stormclan: !

Lolkat123: Thank so much, not only for the review but for reading my choppy beginnings of this story. TDA has taken me over a year to write, so I've improved since March 2013. I'm glad you've noticed :D

guest: What do you mean?

OshawottStream: Hehe. XD

Enjoy~


It was agonizing. Harescar was kept up day and night by this, rolling in his nest and tossing and turning. He hated it when he disturbed Brokenstar out of sleep, or even when he nudged her roughly enough for her to mumble something inaudible.

So, tonight, when Harescar knew it would be a toss-and-turn night, he quietly but quickly padded out of the cave he shared with Brokenstar and trotted down the pile of rocks stacked against the stone wall leading up to the Highledge. Once his paws touched ground, he streaked out of camp, uttering something to the guard, Rainsnow, along the lines of, "Just needed a walk." Of course she allowed him to go by, since he was the deputy and all, but she stared after him curiously as he bounded into the forest. Then he was swallowed by shadow.

OoOoO

Minnowcloudminnowcloudminnowcloudminnowcloud, Harescar insisted to himself, still determined to believe and stubborn on the belief that the gray tabby, who was not only slick with his pelt but also with his words, had poisoned Frostkit's food.

It just seemed so cruel. How could Minnowcloud have done this to his own son? He would never dream of putting deathberries in Streamkit's food, but Frostkit was more or less a piece of dirt to the half-RiverClan warrior.

Harescar recalled the story he had heard, mostly through hushed whispers between the queens when Harescar was an older kit, probably around five moons.

Minnowcloud was, indeed, no doubt, half-ThunderClan, and half-RiverClan. His mother, from ThunderClan, and his father, from RiverClan, met at a Gathering as apprentices. They began to talk at every Gathering they were both lucky to attend. By the time they were warriors, they had to see each other more often than each Gathering. But, unfortunately, Minnowcloud's mother discovered she was expecting kits only a few moons after she was named a warrior. Enraged that her young warrior life was taken away from her already, she swiped her mate in the face, causing him to have a scar across his face the rest of his life.

Minnowcloud's mother stayed in ThunderClan the whole time she was pregnant, until the tail-end. When she realized it was time, she stumbled all the way across WindClan territory to get to RiverClan. The pain was excruciating, but she did it because she wanted her kits to know their father as well. She crashed through some bushes in the side of the camp and gave birth to just one little tom in the center of the clearing.

In the morning, the RiverClan cats found her and her kit, and reluctantly accepted her into the Clan. Unfortunately, when she found out that Minnowcloud's father was hit by a monster recently, she barely lasted a few days before she intentionally scrambled onto the Thunderpath and allowed herself to be killed.

Abandoned and parentless at two moons, Minnowkit was an easy target for bullies. "Half-Clan dirt", "Thunderdork", and "Minnowwimp" were a few of the names he was called. Minnowkit lasted through it all, but grew bitter. By the time he was apprenticed, he felt like he didn't belong in his birth Clan. When he was six-and-a-half moons old exactly, Minnowpaw left RiverClan, running the same route his mother took the night he was born except backwards; he arrived at ThunderClan exhausted the next dawn.

This Harescar remembered clearly: he and his brother, Stonepaw, confronted Minnowpaw the heartbeat he stepped into camp. They were pretty nasty; Harescar winced when he realized the first thing he said to Minnowcloud was: "Intruder scum!"

It just went downhill. Still rancorous, Minnowcloud started using comebacks against Harepaw and Stonepaw. After the moons of Harepaw and his brother being hateful towards Minnowpaw, Minnowpaw ended up on top the day Stonepaw died.

Harepaw was sitting in the darkest corner of the apprentices' den, nose buried in the moss of his brother's nest, still trying to contemplate a life without Stonepaw. Minnowpaw then walked in. Harepaw glanced up, feeling strange seeing the tom. Now that Stonepaw, the main bully to Minnowcloud was gone, what point did he have being mean to Minnowpaw? Yes, it would take some healing for both of them, but if Harepaw was the nicest he could be to Minnowpaw, just maybe the gray tabby would forgive him.

"Hey," he mumbled, lifting his head from his brother's nest.

Hard blue eyes were already staring at Harepaw when he looked up. Minnowpaw's pearly white teeth glinted as he simpered cruelly. "Sorry for your loss, Harepaw," he practically sneered.

Harepaw should've taken this as a hint. But he only dug himself into a deeper hole with no vine to climb out of it. "It's not your fault," Harepaw barely whispered. "I- I just can't believe he's gone." He glanced back at his fellow apprentice. "Besides, I'm… the one who should be saying sorry. Stonepaw-" He paused, choking on the deceased cat's name. "- my brother and I should've stopped teasing you once Squirrelstar accepted you in ThunderClan. So, I'm very sorry for being so mean to you."

"'Mean'? That's what you and Stonepaw were to me?" Minnowpaw hissed, his chill mood suddenly forgotten as he advanced on the grieving ginger tom. He emphasized on Stonepaw's name, and Harepaw winced. "That's it? How about atrocious? Heartless? Abusive? Day after day ever since I set paw in this hollow, I've faced the same fox-dung I did in RiverClan. Where am I supposed to go, now, though? I thought I could at least have a fresh start with these cats, but no, here comes you and Stonepaw, lumbering around spewing out the best insults you can muster. You and Stonepaw were in my path of glory. But now that he's gone, it's just you. And I can take on you. So much more of a shrimp than your brother. So, in conclusion, mouse-heart, I'm the leader now. If you dare to call me names anymore, you'll wish you had left the moment I joined ThunderClan," Minnowpaw threatened.

Harepaw shuddered. What had happened to the meek, barely-seven-moon-old apprentice who stumbled through the thorn tunnel four moons ago? Clearly he had been replaced by this monster.

Harescar shook his head, chasing the flashback away from his already foggy mind. "But I was the monster first," he mumbled. "I never tried to poison him, though. Now he's the one who has gone too far."

The tom kept walking until he found himself in the middle of a holly bush. He hadn't even noticed the pain the prickly leaves had delivered to him until he started backing out.

The deputy was almost out when he noticed a large knot of fur tangled around a clump of the spiky sprouts. He winced. When was the last time I groomed myself? Wow, this whole issue really is getting to me.

Gently, Harescar tried to pull himself gradually away from the snag. His progress waxed and waned; one moment he felt like he was about to break free, the next he discovered his fur still tightly bound around the branch as though his life depended on it.

With a hiss of frustration, Harescar kept yanking fruitlessly until he heard a voice from behind him. "Here, let me help."

Harescar blinked, watching as a tall figure stepped over to where his pelt was caught, examining the mess. The strong smell of dung smacked Harescar's nose like he had been stung by a bee, and he nearly howled from the stench. No cat in their right mind would roll in scat to disguise their scent unless there was nothing else. Or…

"I personally prefer garlic for when I sneak out of camp illegally, Brownkit," Harescar growled.

Brownkit didn't reply right away, as he was very focused on the mix-up. Eventually the puppy settled on carefully snipping away at the fur with one sharp claw until Harescar was freed from his holly jail.

"Thanks," Harescar meowed firmly, turning away from Brownkit, as the smell was still too much. "But this doesn't make up for you leaving camp. Why did you do it this time?"

Brownkit lowered his head submissively, clearly ashamed. "I- it… Carly."

Harescar groaned. "Ugh, at this point you skipping over the border to ShadowClan would be better than this. You promised me, Brownkit, and at least you told me the truth. However, it isn't acceptable to visit another dog and a Twoleg when you are under six moons. When you joined us, you agreed to stay allies with one species only- cats- and to be in camp constantly until you were apprenticed. You were offered two moons ago to be apprenticed early, but you declined, therefore setting you back still."

"I'm sorry," Brownkit whined simply. "It's… just… so close to my ceremony. I know that doesn't make it okay for me to do this."

"But know that when you're an apprentice, you can't leave camp without a warrior. You'll only have freedom when you're a warrior; but hopefully you'll be over this… 'Carly' by then. Now, understand me when I say this: if this happens ever again, Brokenstar will be sure to know. And then it will be up to her for what she does with you."

Brownkit nodded vigorously. "Yes," he said. "Of course. I've just…" He hesitated as the two turned their paws in the direction of camp and commenced padding. "I've just been thinking about the past a lot lately. I know I don't have much to remember yet- I've only been alive roughly two seasons- but I couldn't stop thinking about her. It was like my mind was in a continuous march for Carly, a parade that couldn't be halted."

Harescar smirked. He knew what the young dog was feeling; but he couldn't possibly tell Brownkit what this was yet, could he? He tilted his neck a bit, glancing up at the long-legged dog. This was strange… Harescar felt like he was talking to his son about a first crush. Instantly the deputy's pelt heated. Now that he was with Brokenstar, crushes and flings were out of the picture. He had settled down now. But despite this, how could be ever talk to Brownkit about this mushy stuff? He was no expert on love. He just followed along with his heart when with his mate.

They returned to the camp. Harescar was glad to see Rainsnow had been replaced by another guard, Flashnight. The original guard, Beechflight, had been very exhausted, but his replacement turned out to be tired just as much as he had been. Luckily, Flashnight looked wide awake, his lightning yellow gaze fixed on the opposite area from where Harescar and Brownkit were.

"Get in there," Harescar hissed, nudging Brownkit's rump into the hole by the dirtplace. Since Rainsnow had probably informed Flashnight about him being out and about, the deputy reentered the stone hollow through the regular entrance, nodding to Flashnight.

OoOoO

The next morning, Brokenstar called a meeting.


Well, I wonder...