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(one-shot, part of the Rogue series)

The light gray she-cat padded forward, apprehensively placing one paw down in front of the other. Her surroundings glistened with starlight that her pelt lacked. Greif clung heavy to her heart as she remembered how Briarstar had died; old age and illness had finally caught up to her. But at the same time, a sort of excitement gave her boundless energy- she was going to be the leader! Suddenly a glimmer appeared not far away, and a little wisp of light formed into the shape of a cat. The she-cat pricked her ears and gasped. In front of her was the beautiful tortoiseshell she was proud to call mother. Behind her, other cats began to flicker to view until there were countless star cats, nine select few in the front.

“Feathershine,” the tortoiseshell whispered, stepping forward with paws lighter than feathers. “I am so sorry I did not live long enough to see you become leader of WindClan. I am very proud of you, my daughter.” “Thank you,” Feathershine mewed, dipping her head. “I’ve missed you every day since your death, Sorrelbreeze.” Sorrelbreeze smiled and reached up to touch Feathershine’s nose. “As your first life, I give you care. Care for your Clan with the fierceness as if they are your kits.” Feathershine shrieked as energy pulsed through her, from her nose to her tail-tip. She stumbled back, breathing heavily. But the lingering devotion of the life clung onto her.

Sorrelbreeze stepped back, still looking pleased and proud. Next came a broad calico she-cat. Feathershine bowed her head as she approached. Braristar’s eyes glittered with mischief, something she lacked as she grew older.

“We’re both leaders now,” she rumbled. “No respect due.” Then she padded up to Feathershine and gently touched her nose to the light gray she-cat’s. “With this life, I give you courage. I know your motives are great, but you must have the courage to live them.” Again, a jolt of pain wracked her. Feathershine stepped back, dipping her head to Briarstar. The former leader did the same and joined the ranks of StarClan once more.

Then came a small, fluffy white she-cat. Feathershine immedately softened.

“Snowpaw,” she murmured. “I’m so sorry, what Sagepaw did. You- you’ve been avenged.”

Snowpaw shrugged. “I know,” she meowed simply, lacking the sharpness she had when alive. “There’s more to life than avenging. With this life I give you forgiveness. You don’t have to get back at every cat that wronged you.”

Feathershine leaned down at accept the life. She braced herself for another wave of pain, but it never came. Instead, she felt a calming sensation, washing over her like the river. This is what forgiveness feels like.

Snowpaw stepped back, grinning. Feathershine looked at her paws. I hope she forgives me.

Feathershine didn’t recognize the next cat. It was a light cream she-cat with a thick coat, whose eyes sparkled with a youth once lost.

“Greetings,” the new cat meowed. “You do not recognize me, I see. I died soon before you were apprenticed. My name is Paleberry, medicine cat and sister of Briarstar.” Feathershine nodded; her name brought back vague memories.

“I bet you didn’t know that I once killed a cat,” Paleberry remarked after a moment of silence. Feathershine pricked her ears, stunned, and stepped back. Paleberry chuckled.

“I won’t hurt you. The cat I killed- it was all for a reason that was my fault. So my life is for acceptance of the truth, no matter how hard it may be. StarClan grant that you don’t follow the same path I did.”

When she leaned forward, Feathershine almost leapt back. The pain of acceptance was like no other, and it was more painful than imaginable. Paleberry stepped back, dipping her head.

Next came a cat Feathershine recognized immediately. The gray cat purred as her former mentor padded up to her.

“Goldenheart,” she greeted. “I’ve missed you so much.” Goldenheart’s eyes glistened. The former deputy's shimmering coat showed no sign of her brutal death, saving her Clan from a fox.

“As have I,” she replied. “I’m glad my training has paid off. With my life, I give you an open mind. Be ready to take in any suggestion, even by the ones you fear might be wrong.” Feathershine accepted the life, and by then the pain had dulled. Goldenheart padded back, smiling.

The next cat was a skinny yellow tom Feathershine had never seen before.

“Hello there, Feathershine,” he began. He tipped his head to the side. “You take on a lot after your mother, you know.” Then he shook his head and padded up to her. “I am Swallowfur, Paleberry’s first apprentice. I died too early and for a poor reason- for someone else to be accused of murder. So with this life I give you good judgement. You may not always be right, but you have to have the right mindset.”

Feathershine felt an overwhelming sensation as she received the life. So much responsibility weighed on her shoulders and for what, she wasn’t sure. Swallowfur stepped back, and was replaced by a tom twice his size. Feathershine flinched back at his gaze, but immediately it softened.

“Do not fear me,” he rumbled. “I am Oakstar, leader of WindClan before Briarstar.”

“I know of you,” Feathershine piped up. “You were set up by your own mate and killed by your own daughter.”

“If only it were as simple as that,” he growled, narrowing his eyes. “What you haven’t heard is often the most vital. I give you a life for letting go of the past. Grudges, anger, jealousy- they mean nothing in the long run.”

Then he reached forward and touched Feathershine’s nose to his. Feathershine gasped as a cold, hollow feeling burned throughout her. Oakstar left, not turning away from her.

Next came a cat Feathershine knew only from tales told, and her own dreams.

“Breeze!” she exclaimed. The tabby and white she-cat purred her acknowledgement.

“Indeed,” she replied. “Although I spend most of my life a Clan cat, the most vital times were spent outside the borders. With this life I give you persistence. Without it, I would have never been able to get home. In the end, I never truly did, but you can use it for things of greater importance.”

As Breeze reached out to give her the life, Feathershine expected a flash of pain. Instead she got a warm, determined feeling tingling in her paws, like she could conquer the whole forest if she wanted to.

Breeze smiled. “You really do take after your mother,” she remarked quietly. Feathershine blinked, awaiting the next cat. But no one stepped forward.

“Aren’t… aren’t I supposed to receive nine lives?” she asked. “I only have eight.”

Suddenly her ears pricked. She made out a voice from the crowd of cats, gradually growing clearer.

“S’cuse me, outta my way, sorry, got kinda lost, oops, WATCH it-” then it stopped. The cat broke out in front of Breeze, who ushered her towards Feathershine.

“Twistedfoot?” Feathershine whispered. Her voice broke ever so slightly. The former deputy gave her a loopy grin.

“In the flesh,” Twistedfoot replied. “Well, I mean, not really. You get me.”

Paleberry coughed subtly, and Twistedfoot laughed. “Well, I get to give you your final life. I just want to say that you deserve to be Featherstar, not me. I was never destined to keep my name. You don’t ever need to let yourself down because of that.”

Feathershine smiled, thought it felt bittersweet. “Thank you,” she whispered. “You’re the reason I’m here today. I can never repay you for that.” “And for your final life I give you kindness,” Twistedfoot mewed. “It was something I lacked. You know darn well how to use it.” Then she placed her nose up to Feathershine’s, and an explosion of light momentarily blinded Feathershine. Then Twistedfoot stepped back.

“Wait!” Feathershine- Featherstar, now, she knew- pleaded. “Twistedfoot, don’t leave me! I still have so much to learn from you.” “You’ll manage,” Twistedfoot replied, flicking her tail as she began to fade.

“After all, you were Featherpaw too.”

.:~End~:.  

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