Blossomfall was going to die. This was how it was going to happen, the very first time she finally tried to be something more, a ShadowClan tom was going to tear her to pieces in a fight that was supposed to be for training. Maybe it would be for the best, she wasn’t the best asset to her clan as it was. The excuse felt as weak as she knew it to be. She didn’t want to die, she just didn’t know quite how to go about living.
Her blows were getting weaker and weaker, and Blossomfall was struggling for breath under Ratscar’s paws, trying desperately to free herself to no avail. Maybe the Dark Forest had been a mistake. Maybe she was just as useless there as she was in ThunderClan. Maybe she’d never have the chance to show her clan that she was more than what they thought she was. Maybe she wasn’t more than they thought she was.
At first, Blossomfall didn’t even process what had thrown Ratscar off of her, just stumbled to her paws before he could strike her again. It was Ivypool, because of course it was, that she-cat was never going to get out of her life, was she? Ivypool was facing Ratscar with a snarl and Blossomfall could do nothing but stare. Ivypool had just saved her life, risking her own life in the process. Oh StarClan, how did she even begin to reckon with this?
“Stop!” Brokenstar called out, and Blossomfall froze. The amber-eyed tom was terrifying, and she couldn’t bear the thought of crossing him. He advanced on Ivypool darkly, and Blossomfall could bring herself to return the favor and defend her clanmate. “Just what do you think you’re doing? What gives you the right to interfere?”
“We’re loyal to one another, right?” Ivypool challenged, meeting Brokenstar’s eyes. Blossomfall wasn’t sure she’d ever seen anything braver in her life. “Should we stand by like cowards and let one another be defeated in battle?”
“You saved your clanmate,” Brokenstar accused, narrowing his eyes. Ivypool bristled.
“Here, they are all my clanmates. I don’t see why an apprentice should be lost on her first visit,” Ivypool argued. Of course that was all it was, just a matter of logic. Nothing else, not that Blossomfall knew what she’d been hoping for. A feeling of shame burned in her pelt, even if her feelings had never been voiced.
Brokenstar seemed to accept Ivypool’s argument, because he turned away to address some other apprentice. Ivypool was staring right at her now, and Blossomfall found herself having utterly no idea what to do. She couldn’t give away her feelings, the ones she couldn’t even name, and her usual snappishness emerged like the defensive mechanism she’d honed it to be.
“You didn’t have to do that. I could have beaten Ratscar in the front end,” Blossomfall insisted, before turning her head to groom back down her fur that had been ruffled. She heard Ivypool snort in disbelief, and brought her head back up to glare at the other she-cat.
“Yeah right. You’re too pretty to have your pelt ripped off,” Ivypool huffed sarcastically, before turning around and disappearing into the crowd of cats. Blossomfall blinked at the space she’d just been occupying, trying to figure out what Ivypool had meant, and if it had been a compliment or an insult.
Maybe she did know what those feelings were, afterall.
“Blossomfall?” Blossomfall blinked her eyes open to see Ivypool’s face hovering directly over hers, and for a moment, allowed herself to believe that it was supposed to be this way. Maybe they shared a nest, like in her dreams, and this was just a regular morning. Only, she was in pain and could barely see.
“Ivypool? What happened?” Blossomfall struggled to her paws, and immediately fell down a moment later. She felt sick, the rush of excitement from finally getting some time alone with Ivypool fading as panic began to set in. Exploring was only fun until they got lost. Maybe she should’ve listened to Ivypool earlier, instead of playfully bickering. The moment had just been too fun to resist.
“I rock fell from the roof of the tunnel and hit you, I think,” Ivypool answered worriedly. That was as sweet as it was terrifying; a worried Ivypool was never a good sign, but Blossomfall could deal with the younger she-cat caring for her. “Can you get up?”
“No,” Blossomfall whined miserably, trying and failing once again to climb to her paws. Her head was spinning, and the darkness was beginning to feel like it was closing in on her. “Oh StarClan, we’re going to die down here.”
“We’re not going to die,” Ivypool sighed, but Blossomfall couldn’t find it in herself to believe her.
“But what if we do? Millie’s not even going to care, I’m going to only be remembered as a horrible cat who was jealous of her injured sister,” Blossomfall moaned, and maybe the head injury had broken her brain to mouth filter, because she never would’ve admitted this to anyone, let alone Ivypool.
“You’re not a bad cat,” Ivypool assured her firmly, which wasn’t the reaction Blossomfall had been expecting. Not a touch of shocked horror to be seen. “And Millie loves you just as much as Briarlight, and neither of us are going to die!”
“But what if we do?” Blossomfall repeated, halfway hysterical now. She’d gone on this exploration to forget, to get lost in Ivypool so the way her mother had looked at her that morning left her mind. Now she was lost in the tunnels, and that was all she could think about. “Millie hardly even remembers I exist, and sometimes I wish Briarlight didn’t exist. That’s why I joined the Dark Forest, because I wouldn’t be allowed into StarClan, and that’s when—this is all your fault, you know!”
“What’s all my fault?” Ivypool asked, sounding a bit offended, just as Blossomfall was beginning to regain some of her senses and realize just how much she had just spilled.
“It’s your fault we’re down in these tunnels,” Blossomfall said, because it wasn’t like she could explain the actual reasoning behind her accusation. Ivypool narrowed her eyes.
“How is this my fault? You suggested it! You know what, I’m done, I’ve tried being your friend, and I thought we were getting somewhere right now, but I’m done,” Ivypool hissed, before turning around and stalking in the opposite direction. “We’ll find our way out of the tunnels, and after that-“
“Ivypool, wait!” Blossomfall called, because this was a hundred times worse than Ivypool knowing the truth. Maybe it was finally time to risk it. “It’s your fault, because you called me pretty in the Dark Forest, and now I can’t stop thinking about you. StarClan, I would’ve done anything just for a few moments alone with you, and now we’re trapped in here. So maybe it was my fault, but it started with you.”
“Why did me calling you pretty make you want to spend time with me alone?” Ivypool turned around as she asked the question, her mew soft. Blossomfall had no idea how she didn’t get it.
“Are you mousebrained? Can’t you see I love you?” Blossomfall cried, and she could barely believe she’d even said that out loud. She struggled to her paws, fighting the dizziness in her head as she made her way toward Ivypool.
“You-“ Ivypool narrowed her eyes, and then widened them, her mouth opening and then closing again. When she finally spoke, she sounded relieved. “Oh. That makes a lot of sense. That’s really good to hear, actually.”
“You don’t have to make up things to make me feel better,” Blossomfall grumbled, suddenly unsure of what to do. It was difficult to read Ivypool’s reaction, and while it was far better than disgust, this wasn’t exactly the ideal scenario she’d fantasized about.
“I’m not making things up, you furball. I just thought you hated me, and this is so much better,” Ivypool countered, and Blossomfall felt her pelt warm in embarrassment.
“I don’t hate you, I never did, I just didn’t want you to see me as weak,” Blossomfall admitted. “I have a lot of feelings I’m not proud of, so it’s easier to just act tougher than I am.”
“I know all about that, I promise,” Ivypool laughed bitterly, and Blossomfall found herself wondering why Ivypool trained in the Dark Forest. She seemed like such a good cat, a better one than Blossomfall was, for sure, but maybe even she had her damage. “And I’m so glad that was all it was, because I love you too.”
“What?” Blossomfall found herself saying, a spike of adrenaline shooting through her as she dared to let herself seriously consider the possibility. “Do you really-“
“I risked my life for you twice now, how much more obvious did you need me to get?” Ivypool asked, and she sounded happy now, enough so for Blossomfall to make hopeful eye contact. “I love you, Blossomfall, even if it seems like you have bees in your brain, sometimes.”
“Oh, okay. That’s perfect, then,” Blossomfall replied, giddy relief flooding her voice. She purred, learning forward to touch her nose against Ivypool’s lovingly. “But there is so much I have to tell you now.”
“Me too,” Ivypool sighed, keeping their heads close. Blossomfall couldn’t believe how quickly things had turned around for her. One moment, she was convinced she was going to die, unloved and evil, and now she had this. Maybe her life could get better after all. “But first, let’s get out of these tunnels.”