by Erin Hunter and Avidflame
"Oh, Gingerfall. Come in." The medicine cat jumped in surprise and Gingerfall ducked her head in embarrassment. "I'm sorry, Aspencloud. I didn't mean to scare you.
" The silver tabby rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah. I know. It's fine. But, what seems to be wrong?" Gingerfall meowed, "Well, I've been having bellyaches, and I think I ate a bad piece of prey.
" Curious, the medicine cat narrowed her eyes. "How long have you been in pain?" She asked. The orange she-cat stared at the piercing blue eyes and tilted her head. "Since last moon.
Why?" The medicine cat's eyes widened and she smiled. "Hmmm. Maybe... come here a moment, Gingerfall." The She-cat padded over to Aspencloud.
The silver tabby layer a paw on Gingerfalls belly and nodded. "Just as I thought. This is no bad piece of prey.
Gingerfall, Congratulations! You're pregnant!" Gingerfall drew in a breath and gave a tense smile. "Oh! T-thanks, Aspencloud. I'll go tell Mallowtail.
" With that, the new queen walked stiffly out of the den. Aspencloud stared after her and shook her head.
Meanwhile, Gingerfall collapsed in her nest next to Mallowtail and buried her face in his fur. She took a long shakey breath.
"Gingerfall? What's the matter?" He asked, a concerned look in his eyes. She shook her head and wailed.
"Oh, Mallowtail! I-I'm going to have kits!" The gray toms eyes widened, just as Aspenclouds had. She sobbed into his chest fur. "B-but how?! Am I the...
father?" She nodded frantically and wailed again. "But, But you're so... so young!" He cried. "I mean, it's great, and I love you, but... am I really deserving?" She looked up at him and sighed.
"Of course you are." She meowed. She yawned and curled up closer to him, still sobbing quietly.
He let out a stifled sigh and rested his chin on her head, watching as his mates chest rose and fell.
Day by day, Gingerfall had noticed that her belly was getting bigger and bigger, until she finally, and reluctantly, moved into the nursery.
Every passing day, Mallowtail had to be forced out of the nursery by the other queens as he frantically tried to visit his mate.
One day, during his annual visiting time, he heard a screech come from the nursery. He bolted through the entrance and shook with fear as he saw Gingerfall jolting forward and shivering.
"Aspencloud!" He yowled. The medicine cat raced through into the den, carrying a bundle of herbs. "Great StarClan, calm down!" She muttered, exasperated.
"She's not the first cat to go throughout a kitting." Robinwing walked into the den with a stick holding moss-soaked water. She rushed over to her friend and laid down the moss.
She stroked Gingerfalls back with her tail as the orange queen let out a gasp. The first kit, a tiny white and orange she-cat slithered onto the ground.
Mothblossom, a brown tabby queen immediately started rasping her tongue over the kits fur.
Three more kits were born, a pale brown tabby she-kit, a black tom with mint colored eyes, and a fluffy golden she-kit with white ears.
Wolfstep padded into the nursery just as Mallowtail started to walk out. The two toms who had fought over Gingerfall jammed into each other.
Mallowtails nose started bleeding and he shook his fur out. Wolfstep leaped to his feet and brushed the dust off his fur. He screeched when he saw who he had run into.
"Y-you!" He drew back his lips in a snarl and he spat. "You.
You! You stole my future mate! It's your fault!
" Mallowtail stared wide eyed at the tom as Wolfstep started shaking, obviously remembering the time he had watched Gingerfall and Mallowtails relationship begin.
He frantically scrabbled to his feet and limped as fast as he could to the warriors den. As soon as the white and gray tom fell into his nest, he started bawling.
Soon, Gingerfall stopped by the den with Mallowtail. Wolfstep hissed as he saw the silver warrior and turned away from the couple. "Wolfstep...
are you okay?" Gingerfalls sweet voice put him in a sad and memorable trance. He started shaking again and a few fat teardrops rolled down his face.
He shivered in his nest and he soon felt warm fur curl around him. He opened his eyes. "G-Gingerfall? What-" "Shhhh... just sleep. Your tired.
" His eyes fluttered open as he realized that the voice was not of the beautiful orange tabby, but Aspencloud, the equally pretty silver medicine cat. "Aspencloud!" He shrieked. She sighed.
"B-But you're a medicine cat..." she nodded and put her tail over his mouth. He slowly closed his eyes and let her wrap her sweet scent around him.
She curled up tighter around him, and he purred as he fell deep into sleep. A long time later a booming voice awoke the two. "Aspencloud.
" The wide eyed tabby stumbled to her paws and she looked towards the voice. "Palestar. Greetings!" The sandy tom narrowed his eyes. "Hmm. What were you two doing?" He demanded suspiciously.
The medicine cat tilted her head and then viciously shook her head. "N-no! I was just trying to calm him down! He started shaking and he was practically asleep.
I couldn't give him thyme, I used the last of it on Gingerfall!" She mewed frantically.
The leaders gaze softened and He meowed, "Wolfstep? Can you come to my den for a moment?" The young tom blinked in surprise but he followed the leader anyways. Once inside, he started.
"Wolfstep, why were you shaking?" The gray and white tom was taken aback and he nervously searched for words. "W-well, I, She.. Gingerfall..." he stuttered. Palestar lifted his tail for silence.
"What was that about Gingerfall?" He meowed. The younger tom gulped. He finally had to tell the truth. "W-well, once, in the forest...
I mean, when we were apprentices, Mallowtail and Gingerfa- GingerPAW, we're sitting in the forest. I-I was watching them and Mallowtail and I got into an argument... about Gingerfall.
" He confesses. "And, I admit... I loved, no, love her. But she chose that mangy flea-bag as a mate and... and..." he broke of as he shuddered again. He looked at his paws, embarrassed.
His leader looked at him, empathy in his pale blue eyes. "A She-cat." He meowed. "And, you love her but, she has a mate already." Wolfstep nodded sadly and took a deep breath.
He leaped to his paws and jerked his head toward the entrance of the den. Palestar got up to and followed his gaze. "Who's there?" He demanded.
Gingerfall stumbled into the den and winced as Wolfstep glared at her, pain and agony in his eyes. She looked away. "So, Gingerfall. Now you know how your friend actually feels.
But what about your punishment for eavesdropping on your clan leader?" She stared at the two toms in front of her and when Wolfstep met her gaze, a tear slid down her cheek.
"I-I'm so sorry, Wolfstep! I used to love you but, I-I met M-Mallow-Mallowtail and- I'm sorry!" The She-cat was bawling now, and Wolfstep furrowed his brow at the mention of Mallowtail.
He looked at the miserable cat and narrowed his eyes. "Sure.
And I'm supposed to believe that?! I know that moony look you always got when you looked at other, big toms! But me?" He shook his head as he stared at her. "With me, it was never the same.
Never!" Gingerfall squeezed her eyes shut and she looked towards her leader. "Please," she begged. "Please, just punish me! Take my life, I don't care!" The leader raised an eye brow.
"Take your life?" He tried to stop from laughing, but his shoulders still shook. She glared at Palestar. "I mean it. I don't care what happens to me. I deserve it.
I've been a terrible cat ever since my apprenticeship. My friends shouldn't feel this way over one she-cat, or me, for that matter!" She screeched. "Oh.
Well, I believe that seeing somebody you care about, barely being able to live life is punishment enough. Now. Gingerfall. Your REAL punishment will not physical, but mental.
Wolfstep, would you please tell Gingerfall how you feel? And don't hesitate, just tell her everything." The leader nodded, obviously content with this decision.
Gingerfalls jaw dropped open and Wolfstep stared at her miserably. He drew in a long breath and explained everything to her, even that he loved her as a kit. He went on and on, until his entire b
ody shook. Palestar flicked his tail towards the entrance of the den. "Good. Gingerfall, I hope you learned your lesson. You can both leave." The two cats headed out of the den, and while Gingerf
all hung her head Wolfstep twined his tail with hers. She jumped, and he jerked his tail away. She shook her head and sighed. She went over to the nursery and her kits. Wolfstep walked in the opp
osite direction. His feet carried him mindlessly, and he stared at where he ended up. The medicine den. "Wolfstep! Thank StarClan your back!" She purred. Aspencloud must have noticed his misery,
for she pulled him closer to her, and rested her chin on his head. "Is everything okay? Was Palestar hard on you?" He shook his head sadly. She tilted her head. "Then What is it?" She asked. "Wel
l, it's just, tom stuff..." He meowed. She lifted her eye brows. "Ha Ha. Let me guess, a she-cat?" He blinked in shock but nodded. He sighed. "Gingerfall." With that Aspencloud understood everyth
ing. She nodded and guided him into her den. "Here, you can stay with me tonight!" He sighed and she added nervously, "I-if you want." He nodded and they both curled up together in Aspenclouds ne
st. Wolfstep pulled her closer, wanting tonight to last forever.