"Want to come hunting with me?" Red Clay asked.
"Sure," Frostwhisker purred.
"Go ahead," Raven said. "I haven't heard any patrols for a while now."
"Maybe they gave up," Rain suggested quietly.
"They probably did," Frostwhisker snorted. "They never cared about me that much anyway."
"How could they not care about you?" Red Clay said softly, and it seemed half to himself. Rain and Raven didn't hear it, so Frostwhisker didn't comment.
"Well, let's get going," Frostwhisker mewed briskly with a flick of her tail.
"Be careful!" Raven called after them.
"We will," Red Clay answered.
Soon, they were out on the open land again, the cool breeze ruffling Frostwhisker's long bluish-silver fur. Her ears pricked up.
"I smell rabbit, near the river," she whispered. Red Clay nodded. They padded near the river with silent paws. Sure enough, a fat rabbit crouched, nibbling the long grass, tail twitching. "I'll stay here. You scare it towards me," she hissed.
"All right," he whispered. He crouched and went around to the other side of the rabbit. But before he could jump out, a brown-and-white blur leaped, landing on the rabbit and killing it. Red Clay yowled with rage.
Frostwhisker leaped out at the she-cat, almost landing on her with unsheathed claws when she realized who it was.
"Raincloud?" she whispered.
"Frostwhisker!?" her friend exclaimed.
"Shhh," she hissed, looking around. "Is anyone with you?"
"Yes..." Raincloud mewed, suddenly looking frightened. Frostwhisker noticed that her belly was growing larger with kits. Eaglefeather's kits.
"Who? You need to get away from us."
"Us?!" Raincloud gulped as Red Clay stepped out of the grass. He was taller than her, and muscular, so she looked up and laid her ears back.
"This is Red Clay, Raincloud. Don't be afraid. He's my friend."
"I-I'd better go now." Raincloud whipped around and dashed away- towards the river. Frostwhisker ran after her, hoping she realized where she was going.
She pushed through long grass until she heard a yowl of fear and pain. Frostwhisker dashed as fast as she could, and came upon the riverbank, nearly skidding into the water.
There, she saw Raincloud's brown tabby head and white muzzle bobbing over and under the water. She frantically tried to paddle to shore, but the current was too strong. Frostwhisker looked around for anything at all that could help her. She was too far out to grab her scruff, and if she did, Frostwhisker would probably fall in as well.
Raincloud was fast approaching the tunnel, and with it, the waterfall. She wouldn't survive that if she fell.
"Help me!" she yowled, her voice full of the utmost fear. And then she was swept over the edge.
"Raincloud!" Frostwhisker half-shouted, half-sobbed. No answer.
"Come on. We need to get out of here," Red Clay mewed in a low voice to Frostwhisker.
"Not so fast," a voice growled. They looked up to see Eaglefeather. "Frostwhisker!" he yowled. "Why are you here, with this rogue?"
"He gave me shelter when I ran away."
"Frostwhisker, why did you run away in the first place!?"
"I'm... sorry. I got angry. I felt like I wasn't appreciated."
"You were," said another voice, and Halfclaw stepped up next to Eaglefeather. "You were loved. Frostwhisker, I always wanted you to realize that. I don't know how many things Sunstep has said to you through your sister. He thought you didn't love him." Frostwhisker thought of Sunstep, the quiet, golden tom in her Clan. He was very friendly, but didn't have a mate yet. She could understand how he could talk to Flowershine, but not her. She didn't fare very well in social situations. All this time, I thought they were going to be mates, but he loved me instead? Flowershine never told me! Maybe she was the one who wanted to feel loved, so... she didn't tell me anything, and as I got grumpier and more vengeful, our Clanmates gradually went to her instead and forgot about me! How could she do this? And suddenly, Frostwhisker knew why. Because it was the very same thing that was happening to her. In the beginning, every cat had avoided her because of her disability. Now they treasured her company. All because of me.
"She never told me," she muttered in disbelief, staring at her paws.
"Come back with us!" Halfclaw meowed down to her.
"We can't let her back in! She let my mate die!" Eaglefeather yowled.
"There was nothing she could do!" Red Clay defended her.
"You're both right," Halfclaw said, laying his tail over Eaglefeather's muzzle in a warning gesture. "Frostwhisker, we will let you back in. I don't believe you did anything wrong. You couldn't have saved Raincloud."
"My kits! My family! They're gone!" Eaglefeather wailed to the sky in anguish. Frostwhisker wanted to comfort him, but she didn't know how.
"Will you let Red Clay in with me?" she demanded.
"Yes. He can stay. If he makes any move against the Clan, he will be distrusted or even exiled. He must prove his loyalty before he will be a full warrior. No other Clan is to know of his presence until he is officially welcomed," Halfclaw ordered. Shouldn't Shimmerstar be making these decisions?
"Could I-" Red Clay began, and Frostwhisker silenced him with a warning flick of her tail. He was going to ask to say goodbye to Rain and Raven. RainClan must not know they exist, though. We must make them think it was only Red Clay.