Gingerfur and Wildpaw

Image Credit: Leah B., Kokomo, IN The author's comments: This fan fiction is based on Erin Hunter's Warriors series, created based on the authors' interests in cats. My story occurs at a later time after an intense epidemic of black cough that cuts the clan members by well over half. Some clans are down to only five to eight members. Thunderclan is immensely underpopulated, and all the males have died. However, Starclan hears their cries and sends two stray males to the clan to strengthen them. One is named Squirrel, and the other went by Leo. Gingerfur, recently receiving her warrior name and deputy title due to lack of members, is very independent and distrusting of people. She cares immensely about her clan, which is mostly her family now. She does not want to let strangers in to their weakened clan, but her leader, Twilightstar, is firm in her decision. Both are given apprentice names and begin training right away. Gingerfur's sister, Spottedpelt, is the medicine cat. When she finds Squirrel in the woods while searching for herbs, she recognizes him from when she was an apprentice. She played with him whenever they would meet. It didn't take long for the two of them to reconnect, and before they knew it, Spottedpelt was expecting kits. Gingerfur is furious that her sister would challenge Starclan when they were in such devestation, but she worries about her. Meanwhile, Leo (now Wildpaw), is pursuing Gingerfur and turning her world upside down. Everything she has tried so hard to protect--and everything that she has believed in is being challenged by the crisis around them. Would Starclan forgive the clan leadership for repopulating the diminished clan? Or would their rath ensue? This is a glimpse into an entire series I have envisioned, of love, sacrifice, loss, and courage.      Gingerfur stormed away from camp, anger filling her from nose to tail tip. How could Spottedleaf let her down? What was Thunderclan going to do now?      She and Squirrelpaw had really complicated everything. All by one mistake. Spottedleaf had mentioned having a mate before; and Gingerfur had been completely against it. But obviously, she hadn’t heeded her advice.      Instead; she did the exact opposite. Not only did she get a mate, but she also chose to have kits with him. Thunderclan was already under destruction after the outbreak of Black Cough. Thunderclan had an extra member compared to Riverclan and Windclan, but Sorreltail was an elder. She was trying her best to help, but was old and frail.      Gingerfur’s  pelt was standing on end, and her claws were furling and unfurling in rage. She had stopped under the Owl’s tree, wanting to yowl out her frustrations. Too much pressure was resting on her shoulders; and she was still so young. To make matters worse, the cat she depended upon and trusted the most just ruined any chance they had of survival.      What clan wouldn’t attack them when their medicine cat was down? What was to keep Shadowclan from sneaking across the Thunderpath to claim their territory?      Her heart felt like it was going to burst inside her chest as her breathing escalated to a peak. Now that she was still, her anger was transitioning into fear and despair. She knew that Spottedleaf never would’ve been a perfect warrior, but she would be even worse at fighting with her belly full of kits.      Not only that, but Sorreltail was weakened by her age, and even Twilightstar was getting older. Squirrelpaw and Wildpaw were not going to be much help unless their training was intensified. So that left herself.  She couldn’t stand to see her clan fall apart. And if Twilightstar died…she was so young, how could she lead a failing clan?      Tears trickled from her yellow eyes, soaking her fur and causing her entire body to tremble.      “Oh Starclan, what do I do?”      “About what?”      She instantly froze, her pelt standing on end.      “What are you doing here?” she asked, refusing to face him.      “I saw you run off, and thought I’d see what was up.” He replied.      She scowled in response, “Why can’t I ever have secrets?   Why do you have to know everything?”      He padded forward, sitting beside her, “Because I wanted to see if it’s possible for you to cry.”      She threw a glare in his direction, wiping her eyes with her tail, “Yes, I can cry. Are you happy now?”      He smiled slightly, “No. It’s not like you.”      “What makes you think you know everything about me?”      “I’m not claiming I know everything there is to know about you, Gingerfur. I wish I did. But there’s too much to learn. But what I do know is that you’re strong, independent, firm, loyal, and always think of your clan first. That’s why you keep your emotions to yourself.”      Gingerfur was silent, her eyes downcast and distant. She stiffened as he tenderly wrapped his tail around her, but she didn’t move away.      “And I also happen to know that you’re actually really kind when you want to be, and absolutely beautiful.”      Her eyes lifted from the ground to stare fiercely at him, “Stop it, Wildpaw.” She immediately shrugged his tail off and stood up.      Wildpaw leapt to his paws, “Am I not allowed to express my feelings? Gingerfur, why can’t you just say you love me back?”      She froze mid-step, then whirled around; her neck fur bristling.      “I love you Gingerfur. And I know that you know that. I also think that you want to be my mate, but you refuse to admit it.” He dared.      “You’re so full of yourself! You don’t care about the clan, you don’t care about me, and you don’t care about anything else!” she yowled.      His gaze fell, “Gingerfur…”      “No! Leave me alone! Doesn’t the fact that I’m deputy mean anything to you? Do you realize what you are asking me to do?”      “Of course I do! But I just thought…”      “No, you didn’t think! And you don’t understand me. Nobody knows what I want, or what I need, or what I’m going through right now. So just go away!”      Before Wildpaw could even respond, she darted away blindingly, unsure of where she would head next.      “Gingerfur, wait!” she could hear the sounds of his thudding paw steps as he ran after her, full pelt.      Her chest felt hollow as she ran. There was way too much pressure being put on. Whether they should be able to have mates, how to keep her clan safe, how to guide her clan…it was all too much for her to handle. She had barely received her warrior name.      When she had reached a stone blocking her path, she immediately began to climb, hearing Wildpaw’s heavy paw-steps getting closer.      “Gingerfur, you don’t understand!” he called up after her, “I think you’re amazing, and I get that the clan needs you, but why won’t you just listen!” Wildpaw reasoned.      “I don’t want to talk to you!” she fumed. Her claws scraped against the stone as she climbed, higher and higher. Wildpaw followed closely behind.      “To me it seems like you could use somebody to talk to!” he countered.      “Well you don’t know me!” she angrily retorted.      “I could try, if you would stop trying to claw me!”      She stopped suddenly, reaching the top of the stone. Just as she was about to plunge down the other side, Wildpaw appeared behind her, touching her shoulder with his tail. Gingerfur let out an exasperated sigh, “Why won’t you go away?”      “Because I hate to see you this way. What’s going on?”      “Why does it matter?”      “Because you’re falling apart. You need to stop hiding your feelings.”      “Is it obvious to you that I’m angry? Do you consider that expressing my feelings?” she snapped.      “You seem more distraught than angry.” He disputed. Gingerfur hissed in frustration, “I don’t have to tell you anything.”       “No, I think not only do you need to, but you want to.” He had stepped closer to her, and now their noses were almost touching.       Just as she was about to retaliate, Wildpaw’s eyes widened.       “Gingerfur, watch out!”       Before she could respond, he reached out and grabbed her neck fur, dragging her behind him.       “Wildpaw!” she growled.       It was then that she realized what he had just saved her from. Wildpaw’s fur stood on end as he snarled in fury.       An Adder crawled its way up the rock. She watched its tongue flare out as it hissed threatingly.       Wildpaw appeared to be trying to figure out how to attack it.       “Wildpaw, run! You can’t try to kill an Adder, they’re too dangerous!”       He seemed hesitant for a moment, before turning and descending down the stone.       Gingerfur quickly followed, trying to grip the stone tightly, but still moving quickly to escape the Adder’s vicious bite. She could still hear it slithering behind them, but the farther they went, the less she heard it.       As they both touched ground at the base of the stone, a sigh of relief escaped their lips.       “Why did you go to Snake Rocks?”       She scowled instantly, “To get away from you!”       “Gingerfur, stop it. Who put burrs in your pelt? I’m only trying to be nice to you and all you do is push me away. What’s so bad about talking to me?”       “You just don’t get it, do you?” she seethed, feeling flustered and infuriated at the same time.       “Don’t get what?”       She took in a deep breath, “I can’t talk to you, and I can’t be your mate. Nobody understands and nobody ever will. Being deputy at my age is a lot harder than you may think.”        He raised an eyebrow, “You can’t talk to me, because you can’t be my mate? Because you’re scared that you’ll get to know me and realize that you like me.”        “Why do you always have to bring this back to you?” she asked.        “You’re misunderstanding, I like you a lot. And I’m not just thinking about me, I’m thinking about both of us, being happy together. I’m almost certain that there’s a part of you that wants a mate.” He replied.         Gingerfur shrugged, “It doesn’t matter what I want, now does it? I’m deputy; the clan comes first. “         “Of course what you want matters! If you don’t want to be deputy, no one can force you to.” He assured her.         Gingerfur rolled her eyes, “Who else is going to do it? Sorreltail is too frail, and you and Squirrelpaw won’t be fully trained for another moon or so. I have a duty, Wildpaw. To serve my clan however is best.”          His eyes were sympathetic, “But what about your happiness, Gingerfur?”          “What if that’s not what I want?”          His gaze was unbelieving, “You keep saying that, but I still don’t believe it. Not after the way you’ve been acting. This position is too stressful for you, isn’t it?”          Gingerfur padded forward, “Well of course it is sometimes. But I can handle it. I can’t just quit.”          Wildpaw followed her lead, “I know I’m new around here, but last time I checked, you shouldn’t just be loyal to your clan. You have to be loyal to yourself too.”          “You sure are persistent, aren’t you?”          “You sure are stubborn, aren’t you?” he disputed.          She rolled her eyes. “Look Wildpaw. I can’t take the risk. All my attention has to be focused on taking care of the clan. I can’t be thinking about a mate or nursing kits...”          “Whoa, hold on. I never said we would have to have kits. Would I want to? Eventually. But I wasn’t saying we had to. In fact, no one has to know we’re mates, do they?”  Wildpaw suggested.           Gingerfur shook her head fiercely, “No, that’s not what I want. I just want to be the best deputy I can be, and I won’t get that from being deceptive.”            He stepped towards her, “Gingerfur, look me in the eyes and tell me that you don’t want to be my mate.” Gingerfur faced him, her eyes level, but her tail was twitching slightly and her throat suddenly felt dry.            His eyebrow rose in suspicion, “You can’t tell me that, can you.”            She stared into his eyes and felt frozen stiff.            “I told you. I know you better than you think.” He murmured.            She snarled and shook her head, “No you don’t.” She straightened herself before declaring, “I don’t want to be your mate. It’s my choice to be deputy, and that’s what I’m going to be. Nobody can stop me.”            His face fell, “Fine, if that’s what you want.” He started to walk away, but he stopped and turned to face her one more time, “Your eyes still disagree with what you’re telling me.” Gingerfur fell silent.            With that, Wildpaw turned back around and padded away towards camp, leaving her all alone. And the instant he was out of range, her eyes began to drip with tears. She knew that he was right; she was interested in him. Being a deputy was becoming extremely difficult for her, too. But she would have to put on a brave face. Most importantly, she couldn’t allow someone else to see her cry.  



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