If Ferncloud was still alive
Ferncloud arrived at the ShadowClan camp, leaning on the shoulders of her only living kit and his only ThunderClan daughter, during the late afternoon.
Dovewing raced toward them, and Lightleap and Pouncestep looked on curiously and slightly nervously, and Slatefur, Grassheart, Cinnamontail, and Scorchfur came over to see what was going on, so by the time Cloverfoot got Tigerstar, there was already a small crowd around them.
"What are you doing here?" Tigerstar demanded, albeit softening his tone somewhat out of respect for the elderly Ferncloud. Really, what was she doing here? If not for her, he would have thought that perhaps Birchfall and Ivypool had come to take over guarding Ashfur from Mintfur and Sagenose. Had they all come to visit Dovewing? Birchfall and Ivypool were one thing, but Ferncloud....From the ThunderClan camp to the ShadowClan camp was a long trek for an elder. Surely they could have sent for Dovewing instead?
Birchfall opened his mouth, but Ferncloud stepped forward, brushing his side with her tail, and looked Tigerstar in the eye. Her voice was quiet but determined. "I would like to speak to Ashfur."
"Why?" was the first thing Tigerstar could think of to ask. "We've already tried to get him to tell us what he knows-"
"No, not that," Ferncloud interrupted. Interrupting a Clan leader was not generally done, but when a cat has lived as long as Ferncloud, exceptions are made. Not to mention she was Dovewing's grandmother. "I just...want to speak to him. If he tells me anything important, I will share it, but I would just like to speak to him, to ask him why...He is my brother," she explained.
A ripple of surprise went through most of ShadowClan. Including, to be honest, Tigerstar. He supposed he'd known somewhere in the back of his mind that Ferncloud and Ashfur were siblings, but knowing something and knowing something were different.
So Ashfur was related to Dovewing. Wonderful.
He supposed it made sense that Ferncloud wanted to talk to her brother. If it had been Dawnpelt or Flametail, he would want an explanation too.
"Fine," he said shortly, in a tone that brooked no discussion from his warriors. "Go talk to him. But if he says anything about the real Bramblestar, or StarClan-"
"I'll tell you," Ferncloud promised. She dipped her head. "Thank you."
All three ThunderClan cats touched noses with Dovewing and followed Tigerstar.
He brings them outside the camp, to the hollow tree where Ashfur is, where Mintfur and Sagenose of SkyClan are standing alert just outside its entrance. They look up curiously.
Tigerstar gestures to the ThunderClan cats. "They're talking to him," he said abruptly.
"I am," Ferncloud says. "Birchfall and Ivypool, you wait out here."
"But-" Birchfall and Ivypool both start to protest.
"If I need help, I will call out, and both of you will come in," Ferncloud said gently but firmly. "But I would like to talk with my brother alone. He won't hurt me."
Tigerstar thinks of Sleekwhisker, and Dawnpelt.
Ferncloud brushed muzzles with Birchfall; he had been through a lot lately. Ashfur had been his mentor, after all. He and Ivypool accompanied her right up to the entrance to the inside of the tree, where Tigerstar poked his head in and said something; a moment later, he withdrew, followed by a young, nervous-looking, gray tabby tom.
Ferncloud dipped her head to the young medicine cat as they passed each other. Looking surprised, he nodded back. But then, he was her kin as well.
She took a deep breath and entered the hollow tree.
It was dim inside, and it took her eyes a few moments to adjust.
"Ferncloud," a voice said.
The cat speaking looked exactly like Bramblestar. He had the same fur, the same eyes, the same voice.
But the way he sat, the way his ears twitched and his tail flicked-it was exactly like her brother. Watching his mannerisms in another body was eerie. Ferncloud couldn't understand how she hadn't figured it out earlier.
"Ashfur," she whispered.
Her brother dipped his head to her. "Welcome to my humble abode."
"Don't joke about this," she told him severely. For a split second, it felt like they were young again, and she was telling him off for something or other, trying her best to take their mother's place.
Then Ashfur said "This isn't a joke," and the feeling disappeared.
"You're right," Ferncloud said quietly. "This isn't a joke."
"What, aren't you happy to see me?"
She took a deep breath. "First of all, we've been living in the same camp for moons. You saw me that entire time, only I didn't know it was you. But I guess this is why you kept being so solicitous towards me? Asking me how I was, offering me the better prey?"
He nodded, looking pleased with himself.
This was part of what Ferncloud hated the most. He was her brother. He'd specifically looked out for her while inhabiting Bramblestar's body. She'd thought it odd, but then, everything about "Bramblestar" had been.
Why hadn't she figured it out earlier? She could have prevented so many deaths!
He still cared about her, it seemed.
She hated to think this, but was that a good thing?
She took another deep breath and continued. "You could have told me it was you at any time. But you chose not to." She was not upset about that. She was not. She knew much better than that.
Ashfur sighed. "I had a plan. If I'd told you who I really was, it wouldn't have worked out."
Ferncloud flicked her tail at the walls of the hollow tree surrounding them. "You call this working out?"
"Don't worry," Ashfur promised her. "This is just a temporary setback. One day soon this will just be an unpleasant memory...I will have my vengeance on all those who wronged me and make them pay!"
His eyes, for a moment, flicker blue, making her gasp.
This is not the Ashfur she knows.
Even after Squirrelflight and Bramblestar became mates, even after they had kits-or after everyone thought they had kits-even when he mentored Lionblaze, he wasn't like this. He was...tighter. Tenser. With a strangeness swirling inside him that she wished she'd identified sooner. But he hadn't been like this.
Then, it had been Squirrelflight and Bramblestar he hadn't liked. Now, it seemed, it was everyone.
"Ashfur..." she whispered.
"Won't you join me, Ferncloud?" he asked her. "We can take revenge on any cat who has ever hurt us. When you die, you can simply go into another cat's body, and live forever. We will rule the Clans. You of all cats should understand me-you know what it's like to lose a cat you loved."
It was as if he'd struck her.
For a moment, Ferncloud couldn't breathe. She felt like her blood had turned to ice water, like the earth was shaking, like a badger had clawed out her heart.
First, she only felt pain.
Then she felt anger, such that she hadn't felt since...ever, really.
"How dare you?" she rasped. "How dare you?"
Ashfur's eyes widened.
"You think you can make a comparison?" she choked out. "You think it's similar at all? The cat you love is alive and well and happy-or at least she was before you got involved! My mate and almost all my kits are dead, and you think you can make a comparison?!"
"Look, Ferncloud," Ashfur started.
"Don't "look" me," she hissed. "Let me finish. Did your kits die? Did your mate die? And don't tell me that nonsense about losing Squirrelflight. You were never mates in the first place."
She dug her claws into the earth. "Do you see the faces of your dead kits in your dreams?" she demanded. "Do you see your mate bleeding out on the ground? And do I hate the badgers who did it? Do I hate ShadowClan for causing us to get involved in that battle? Do I hate every single Twoleg because some of them caused Hollykit and Larchkit and Shrewpaw to die in the old forest?
"No, I don't. It is not the same at all. The world doesn't owe you anything, Ashfur. It's time you realized that. I wish we could have met in peace in StarClan."
She got up to leave, trembling.
Ashfur didn't speak until she had reached the hollow tree's entrance. "You never used to be like this, Ferncloud," he said wonderingly.
She looked back, once. "Neither did you," she said quietly, and left.
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I think a lot of people either forget or gloss over the fact that Squirrelflight didn’t just admit to Ashfur that Hollyleaf, Jayfeather, and Lionblaze weren’t her kits, but said that she wouldn’t care if they died because of that.
She straight out told him that if he wanted to hurt her, he’d have to try harder than burning the three alive, because they’re not really hers.
Obviously we know she was lying about not caring and that she does love them as if they were her own, but imagine the three’s point of view. I mean, the one they had thought to be their birth mother all their lives turned out not to be, so what else could be true?
Also just to be clear, I’m not saying that Squirrelflight isn’t their mother because she didn’t give birth to them, but she did say this!
Yes, we saw Jayfeather realize that that part was a lie and that she does love them, but that’s just one pov of three, and he has an added ability to feel others’ thoughts and emotions.
And as much as I believe that Squirrelflight IS their mother, it is admittedly annoying when people act like the three should’ve gotten over it in a few days and go “it’s okay.. you are our mother.”
Just because it is possible to be someone’s parent, biologically or not, doesn’t mean that if you learn that the person that you had thought to be your birth parent all your life not only wasn’t, but lied to you that they are, it won’t affect you.
Could the three have gone about it differently? Idealistically yes, they could’ve mustered up the courage to talk to Squirrelflight after a few days, weeks maybe, instead of ignoring and glaring at her for months. That doesn’t mean all’s well afterwards, but talk after talk after talk, gradually becoming closer again.
Realistically, maybe they would’ve acted the way they did. Everyone behaves and reacts to things different, right? We expect LIONBLAZE to be forgiving so quickly?
I started making the post and ended up ranting.... This is just a personal opinion by the way, so please don’t be that person in the notes going “umm” please
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