Jayfeather launched himself at Tigerstar. “This is for the fate of the clans!” he yowled. Never before had he felt the power of the stars in his paws. He sank his claws into the dark tabby’s back, praying to StarClan that Firestar would be okay. Tigerstar yowled and jerked away from him, releasing Firestar, who bounded off. Tigerstar snarled at Jayfeather. “You can’t kill me!” he snarled. “You’re just a blind medicine cat!” Jayfeather dug his claws into the ground. “I may be a blind medicine cat,” he retorted. “But I have the power of the stars in my paws!” Launching himself at Tigerstar, Jayfeather fought for his life, and the lives of his clanmates.
Suddenly, agony shook through him. He jumped out of the battle and ran. “Hollyleaf!” he shrieked. A flash of black fur whizzed by as his sister was pinned to the ground by Brezepelt. “This is for everything you did to me!” the WindClan warrior hissed. “This is what you deserve!” He lifted his paw, ready to hit the killing blow. Yowling, Jayfeather leaped at him, thrusting him out of the way. Snarling, the black tom struck a blow to his neck. As the two brothers fought, memories raced through Jayfeather’s weird mind. The lie that had changed his life, protecting Poppyfrost at the Moonpool, watching in agony as Breezepelt tortured Ivypool in the Dark Forest, and then finally Breezepelt leading his own Clan leader to his death. His anger gave him enough power to strike Breezepelt to the ground. But the training in the Dark Forest had made Breezepelt more powerful than Jayfeather could ever be. And he had anger too. Anger and ambition to destroy everyone who had wronged him. He leaped up and clawed Jayfeather’s flank. Fresh blood gushed out and Jayfeather fell to the ground. Breezepelt stood over him, snarling.
“I couldn’t kill then,” he hissed. “But I can now, when I have you right where I need you.” Jayfeather stared at him, his heart pounding faster. “Because of you, my life is ruined,” Breezepelt snarled. “You deserve to die.” He looked up at Hollyleaf, who was lying on the ground, panting. “You all do!” Breezepelt’s amber eyes bored into Jayfeather’s. “I didn’t go to the Dark Forest for nothing,” he meowed. “Tigerstar taught me not to stand back and do nothing. He taught me how to get my revenge.” Snarling, Breezepelt dug his claws deeper into Jayfeather’s flank. But before he could kill him, a screech rang through Jayfeather’s ears, and a flash of gold darted past him, bowling Breezepelt over. “Lionblaze,” Jayfeather breathed. “But…that’s impossible!” Lionblaze glanced over at Jayfeather.
“I couldn’t abandon my Clan,” he meowed. “Not for Cinderheart, not for anything.” He struck a hard blow at Breezepelt, who fought angrily. “I’m part of the Three, and the clans need me.” Pinning Breezepelt down, he glared down at his half-brother.
“You’re business is none of mine,” he snarled. “And your quarrel is not with me. But after all you did, you’re the one who deserves to die.” Without hesitation, Lionblaze sank his teeth into Breezepelt’s throat. The black warrior’s eyes widened.
“I see it now…” he rasped before his eyes closed forever.
“Hollyleaf, no!” Jayfeather turned around to see Leafpool racing towards his sister, with Squirrelflight at her heels. Brambleclaw and Ashfur followed them, along with Crowfeather. “Hollyleaf,” Leafpool whispered. “Speak to me, please!” Hollyleaf’s eyes opened slowly. “Leafpool?” she rasped.
“Hollyleaf!” Leafpool exclaimed. “Hollyleaf, you’re okay!” She bent down to lick her daughter.
“Leafpool,” Hollyleaf whispered. “Leafpool, it’s okay. StarClan is calling me.” Leafpool’s eyes widened, Jayfeather could feel the agony tearing through her heart like thorns.
“No,” she meowed. “No, Hollyleaf, you’ll be okay. I’ll make sure of it.” Hollyleaf shook her head weakly.
“Leafpool, Squirrelflight,” she whispered, her voice barely audible. “I…I understand now. I know what you did and why.” Jayfeather understood too. Now that Hollyleaf had her own kits, she was feeling the same pain that Leafpool felt. “I...I’m sorry,” she rasped. “For everything. I’m sorry for causing you grief and worry, I’m sorry from running away. I know I can’t run away from my problems. Ashfur, I’m sorry I acted so rashly. I’m sorry for telling everyone the secret at the gathering. Leafpool, I’m sorry you lost your place as a medicine cat. It’s my fault, all my fault.” Jayfeather could feel the powerful surge of love coming from his mother and her sister. “Squirrelflight, I’m sorry I couldn’t call you my mother. You’ll always be my mother to me. I know you were always proud of me. I’m sorry I was so blind once I found out.” Squirrelflight pressed her nose to Hollyleaf’s flank. “I’m sorry too, for making you think I was your mother.” Lionblaze pressed to Jayfeather, his amber eyes filled with worry.
“I forgive you,” said Leafpool suddenly. “Even as a medicine cat, I loved you more than anything in the world, and losing you to my mistakes was worse than losing my place in the clan or losing the trust of my clanmates.”
“I forgive you too,” said Squirrelflight. “Everything you did made me proud, and I would have been honored to be your mother.”
“Hollyleaf!” cried a voice. Dovewing rushed in, grief and anxiety brimming in her golden eyes.
“Dovewing,” Hollyleaf purred. “Dovewing, thank you for always being there for me. You handled everything much better than I could ever have, and it always comforted me, knowing that the prophecy was in good hands.” Jayfeather could almost feel his sister slipping into StarClan. “And you two,” she continued. “Thanks for being the best brothers in the world. While I was in the tunnels, I always wanted to see you. My heart ached every day. I wanted to come back more than anything. But I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what I would say to you, or how to explain everything. My heart told me that I was right, but everyone thought I was wrong.” She let out a long sigh, as if to let go of everything she had been holding back all those moons. “But since this is my last chance, I knew I had to say everything.” She closed her eyes. “Goodbye, everyone. I love you all, no matter what it seems.” The light faded from her, and Jayfeather shut his eyes too, trying to suppress his sadness. “She walks with StarClan now,” he mewed hoarsely. He could feel the sadness radiating off of everyone, especially Leafpool. “She did love her,” he murmured. “It hurt for her more than all of us.” Jayfeather felt a nudge as Lionblaze spoke up. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s take her back to camp, where nothing can hurt her.” Picking her up, Lionblaze and Jayfeather dragged her away, with the other cats helping them. Looking down at his lifeless sister, Jayfeather felt himself being turned inside out. “She gave everything for us, for the clans who betrayed her, for her life that was a lie,” he whispered to himself. “Hollyleaf held more honor than us all. She has the courage to face everything. She knows how to really be a warrior.”