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 Of Clan and Family [P], Cedarheart and Hollowfrost
Cedarheart
 Posted: Nov 5 2017, 09:46 PM
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Cedarheart stepped past the other cats as they returned from the border patrol. Even setting aside the stolen moments with Wildeye and the returning blanket of grief for his sister, there were other burdens on Cedarheart's mind that were beginning to catch at his heels. He couldn't allow the matter to rest for much longer, knowing what he did about Spottedlegs and Hollowfrost's broken relationship. Knowing that the moment he'd shared with Hollowfrost's sister was something that the other deputy was, as of yet, unaware of.

The cinnamon tom spotted a glimmer of sleek black pelt and called gently to gather his attention. "Hollowfrost?" meowed Cedarheart. "Do you have a second to talk?" The deputy of civil affairs gestured with a tilt of his head, hoping to draw the other deputy back out of camp so they could talk. It was obvious in the tension of Cedar's shoulders that something was bothering him, but he did his best to be calm and friendly as always.

Whatever Hollowfrost's reply would be, Cedarheart padded back out to wait for the other deputy outside of camp. And, when the black tom would join him, he would lead him a little further for more privacy among the tall sedge and grasses.

@hollowfrost

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hollowstar
 Posted: Nov 6 2017, 10:32 PM
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do you know the line i'd walk for you?

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"take the river north, that border hasn't been patrolled since yesterday and-" hollowfrost faltered mid-sentence at the sound of his name. he glanced over his shoulder to find cedarheart standing across camp, watching him with an expression that curdled hollowfrost's stomach. "go on." he said to the two warriors in front of him, dismissing them with a nod of his head. he didn't wait to watch them go. turning quickly on his heel, hollowfrost loped over to join cedarheart.

even at a distance it was obvious something was troubling cedarheart. even more so up close. the expression on his face suggested otherwise, but he couldn't hide the forced look of it or the rigid set to his shoulders. especially from hollowfrost, with his keen eye for body language and the endless turn of his sharp mind.

hollowfrost fixed his friend with a confused, questioning look, but didn't press the issue just yet. cedarheart was not one to keep quiet when something was bothering him. he would say whatever was on his mind as soon as they were alone.

the fact that he was requesting a private audience was no comforting in the least.

"of course." hollowfrost quickly followed, avoiding the recoil of reeds as they snapped back into place behind cedarheart. he did his best not to jump to conclusions during their short, quiet walk, but hollowfrost had never quite been able to tamp down on his worry once it had been given life.


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Cedarheart
 Posted: Nov 6 2017, 11:12 PM
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Cedarheart padded at Hollowfrost's side as they stepped out of view and into the nearby grasses. He felt like he'd swallowed mouse bile, with how tightly his guts felt to be twisted inside his belly. Looking stiffer than ever, the cinnamon tom settled to sit beside the other deputy. His green eyes met Hollowfrost's own and he did his best to swallow the discomfort he felt. This was Hollowfrost and this conversation had to happen. It was a matter of honesty and accountability for his own choices.

After a moment, Cedarheart lifted his chin and started to explain. "I met one of your sisters on the border," he told Hollowfrost quietly. He didn't quite meet the black tom's gaze. "Spottedlegs. She was... alone, and she was walking on a broken paw." It had been concerning, he remembered. The tattered and dirty look of the cobwebs on her leg had only been a reminder to the rumours that ThunderClan was without a medicine cat.

"I don't think she's had anyone really looking after her in a long time, Hollow. I... let my guard down with her more than I meant to. I told her how to treat her paw and she asked me about you. She wanted to know how to make things right." He was well aware that this probably wasn't going to go over well with Hollowfrost, so he was making every effort to explain himself while the black tom was still willing to listen.

"I said you were one of us, and that if she was going to apologize that she should do it for your sake and not hers. I didn't want you to get hurt if she changed her mind about what she did to you. She... knows about your daughter, but I didn't tell her what Superpaw looked like or what her name was. I didn't want to risk her safety."

He steadied the tremor in his forepaws. Stopping to take a breath, he risked a glance into Hollowfrost's eyes. "All we did was talk. I just... wanted to make sure you knew."

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hollowstar
 Posted: Nov 8 2017, 12:26 PM
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do you know the line i'd walk for you?

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the anxious feeling in his gut only deepened when he took a seat facing cedarheart, studying the sour look on his friend's face. there could be absolutely no doubt now that something was definitely wrong. hollowfrost riffled through his thoughts, searching for an idea of what it might be. nothing had happened as of late would incite a private conversation...

...except for the incident with fallenkit and superpaw, but hollowfrost didn't think their conversation would be about that. when it came to his troubled daughter and the misfortunes that followed her like a black cloud, cedarheart typically deferred to hollowfrost on the matter. unless burnout had gone to him, worried that hollowfrost couldn't make judgments with a clear head, free of bias.

the more he thought about it, the more he became convinced it was about superpaw. an edge sharpened to a point inside of him, a weapon ready to spring to his daughter's defense.

when cedarheart finally broke the awkward silence between them, hollowfrost decided he would much rather the conversation be about his superpaw. the truth, when said aloud, was much worse than anything he could ever have imagined in his head.

he instantly went rigid at the first mention of spottedlegs. he bit his tongue to keep himself from snapping at cedarheart, eyes narrowed to thin, suspicious slits. demands and accusations rose at once, fighting for dominance in his thoughts. why were you talking to my sister he wanted to snap, while a more anxious voice in his head wondered is she okay?

the calm expression on his face, and his willingness to let cedarheart get the full story out, might have suggested hollowfrost wasn't angry. but the storm brewing in his gaze, the terse set to his shoulders, said otherwise.

when it was all said and done, the right words to say evaded him. every thought that crossed his mind through the duration of cedarheart's explanation died quickly with the end of the story.

the first words he said when the silence finally broke were not angry, or upset, or even grateful to his friend for being honest. instead they were bitter, laced with the sharp sting of betrayal. "you know how i feel about my family. you know what they did to me."


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Cedarheart
 Posted: Nov 8 2017, 04:21 PM
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Cedarheart had been grateful for Hollowfrost allowing him to explain, but as the words spilled bitterly from the other tom he found himself regretting that gratitude. He winced, his face burning hot with shame. "I know," he said quietly.

He wasn't sure what else could be said, now that he'd explained all of what happened. To Cedarheart, she was an injured ThunderClan cat without a medicine cat to support her. She meant something much different to Hollowfrost. It was because she was Hollowfrost's sister that he'd bothered at all, when normally he might have stopped the conversation short of her broken paw. But the bond that he'd had with Willowflight did not repeat itself for Hollowfrost's family and Cedarheart in turn did not know how to negotiate that.

"I don't intend to meet her again, but that doesn't change the conversation we had. I'm sorry. I know I overstepped." He wanted to see Hollowfrost happy. He didn't want to watch his friend, essentially his brother, riddled with anxiety because a cat he'd once loved stood at the same Gathering he did. He'd hoped that maybe there was something to be salvaged in the turbulent relationship between Hollowfrost and his sister, at least enough to put them on cordial terms and relieve him of some anxiety. But that had to be Hollowfrost's choice, and Hollowfrost was choosing otherwise.

He was lucky, some part of him accused. Lucky that he had siblings at all. The rest of him was immediately shamed by that idea. An abusive family was as bad as an absent one. He didn't dare offer that perspective to Hollowfrost, though the pain was still evident in his expression.

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hollowstar
 Posted: Nov 11 2017, 02:37 PM
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hollowfrost remembered the first time he and cedarheart had truly bonded, the first time he had ever thought of the other deputy as his friend. it had been the night of their first gathering as deputies, only days after pyrestar died. hollowfrost remembered the sinking feeling in his chest when foxscar appeared at the top of the hollow, spottedlegs at his side as she'd always been. seeing them together, it was like no time had passed at all. the look on his sister's face when she first laid eyes on him, like he was a ghost back from the dead, would always be branded in his mind. then foxscar, disbelief warring with rage on his face as he beheld his traitor son, who had always been a disappointment, who he had always deemed less than the dirt under his feet. cedarheart had been there through it all, a shoulder for hollowfrost to lean on despite the fear that turned the blood in his veins to ice. that night he had felt like a scared apprentice all over again, waiting for judgement and insults he knew would inevitably come. delivered on a sharp tongue, with even sharper words that cut deeper than any claw could.

it felt impossible to coincide the cedarheart of then with the cedarheart of now. his friend's admission forced a wedge between the two until they felt wholly separate from the other. because the cedarheart he considered a friend would never willing do such a thing, knowing how badly it would hurt hollowfrost.

this was not cedarheart. it was like looking at a familiar stranger.

he had cedarheart's kind heart, his willingness to help - and that hollowfrost could understand. he could acknowledge why cedarheart would be willing to help spottedlegs, even knowing what she had put hollowfrost through.

but wanting to do something and actually doing it were two entirely different things. hollowfrost wanted to claw cedarheart's ears, but he wouldn't.

hollowfrost's heart burned with anger, but it also bled confusion. because he knew, deep down, that cedarheart had not done any of this to hurt him. it was not in his capacity to be so willingly hurtful. he was a helpful cat who strove to aide others in their need, and spottedlegs had most assuredly been in need when he met her on the border. and yet... hollowfrost couldn't shake that stinging sense of betrayal that welled up inside him. couldn't stop imagining the gossip spottedlegs and cedarheart might have shared about him.

it's just like the city. hollowfrost realized in horror. back then he'd shut everyone else out too. too paranoid to let anyone in, too afraid to take the step to get closer himself. but back then there had been cause for his paranoia. they had been whispering dark things behind his back, both true and untrue.

cedarheart was not them. he had to keep reminding himself of that.

am i afraid of what he told spottedlegs, or of what spottedlegs might tell foxscar?

the thought was like a splash of cold, like his head being pulled unexpectedly underwater. it dragged hollowfrost out of his fear, if only for a short-lived reprieve.

"and did you think," hollowfrost spat. "of what she might take back to my father? spottedlegs was terrible to me, but our father was always the worst." he still had nightmares about foxscar, even after all these moons. still flinched whenever an older tom stepped too close, or spoke too sharply. "did you ever think that when she started asking about me, she was asking for my father? coincidence might have brought you two together, but don't think for a second my sister wouldn't have used it to her advantage to please that son of a bitch." hollowfrost laughed bitterly. "she always was his favorite. she did everything he asked."


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Cedarheart
 Posted: Nov 12 2017, 07:11 PM
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RiverClan


Cedarheart flinched as the black tom spat back at him, watching the green in his eyes begin to darken. Hollowfrost was angry and frightened: that Cedarheart could understand. That didn't mean he had the right to assume he'd betray his own Clan, that he'd reveal weaknesses and intimate secrets of his own Clanmates. He hadn't thought Hollowfrost would think so poorly of him that he'd assume treason, even with the delicate state of things between them.

Cedarheart felt sick, staring blankly at Hollowfrost as the accusations rolled from his tongue. There was a tremble in his gut that wouldn't leave and he realized that there wasn't a way to resolve this calmly between them. It was too new and too hurtful for both of them.

"And what would he learn, exactly?" croaked Cedarheart in reply, pale eyes watering. "I told her you were happy, that RiverClan was proud to have you as one of our own." Bile was rising quickly in his throat. He couldn't tell if he was hurt, angry or some sickened combination of the two. "I told her that I loved you! That I considered you a brother and I wouldn't see you hurt because of ThunderClan."

His voice was failing him and his heart pleaded for any sign that Hollowfrost still returned that feeling somewhere within. He knew he wouldn't get it. The black tom had been betrayed once too often to still hold that trust in him. The cinnamon tom didn't even know what ThunderClan could do with the information they had; murder him? They could have done that anyway. At least now they'd go after Cedarheart first. "I didn't mean to do it myself."

Cedarheart stared at the ground, refusing to look up at the other cat. The shaking had worsened with the anxiety that bubbled inside; he could feel it with the movement of his breaths.

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hollowstar
 Posted: Nov 13 2017, 08:25 PM
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he didn't mean to accuse cedarheart; or maybe he did. hollowfrost didn't know how to feel about the entire situation. the knowledge that cedarheart had spoken to spottedlegs - about him, in secret, knowing everything he did about hollowfrost's family - left a rotting feeling in hollowfrost's gut. it was impossible for him to discern the different, varying feelings that waged war inside of him. all he knew for certain was the boiling feeling of betrayal that churned in his stomach.

it wasn't fair for him to accuse cedarheart of such things, but his inability to put aside his feelings for foxscar made it difficult to think with a level head. it was like hollowfrost was no longer in control of his body, a mere bystander forced to look on while the world fell apart around him. like his body moved of its own accord, saying these things he had no control over.

it wasn't fair, but hollowfrost couldn't stop them from pouring from his mouth.

and starclan, he was a hypocrite. cedarheart didn't know, couldn't know, about his brief journey to shadowclan to save spottedlegs. he'd been gone no longer than an evening, back the next morning before anyone else had woken. but what could he have done? leave spottedlegs there in the forest, knowing she would die? hollowfrost had a lot of ill feelings for her, but he didn't wish his sister dead. he wasn't foxscar.

"i don't know, cedarheart!" hollowfrost shot back. his voice rose to a pitch and cracked on his friend's name. he couldn't even look at cedarheart while he spoke, too afraid to see the look on his friend - his brother's - face. "you never know what foxscar will do, he's unpredictable like that!" as before, the words came unbidden to his tongue, pouring freely like the river over the gorge: tumultuous, frenzied, with the distinct feeling of an impending crash at the bottom. "he starved me. wouldn't let the medicine cat tend to my wounds if i was hurt in battle and hadn't proved myself according to his standards. my sisters and i were close, once upon a time, but then they were so desperate for his love he turned them against me. and then they turned the other apprentices against me. i had no one."

he was breathing heavily; wide-eyed from the desperate way he spat the words into the air between them. he still could not face cedarheart, eyes fixed firmly on the middle ground between them. "he used to hit me, when we were alone. until i was too big and he was worried i would hit back." hollowfrost laughed bitterly, but even the bitterness sounded strangely empty. "and then when he realized i wouldn't, he did it again."

a step away from cedarheart, then a second. his eyes grew wider then, if such a thing was possible, as the full reality of what he'd just admitted turned back around and smacked him across the face like foxscar used to do. "i used to be glad i didn't have a brother, because we would have killed each other trying to please foxscar." because with foxscar it had always been about the perfect, picturesque son. he loved his daughters, there was no doubt about that, but his favor lay in his male children - or the idea of them, since hollowfrost had failed so miserably. "i think maybe i still wish i didn't."

if hollowfrost's own words struck him hard enough to leave him reeling, he didn't want to wait and see what cedarheart's reaction would be. he turned tail and dashed for the camp entrance, dodging the cats coming through with muttered apologies and a ducked head.

starclan, what the hell did i just do?


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Cedarheart
 Posted: Nov 13 2017, 10:10 PM
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RiverClan


Cedarheart stared in blank horror at Hollowfrost, recognizing the way fear had glazed in the black tom's eyes and finding himself suddenly unsure of what to do. There wasn't comfort he could give here, but he wasn't exactly in the mind for that himself. His anger had abruptly shifted. As hurt and angry as he was with Hollowfrost, the realization of just how far Foxscar had gone was sickening to Cedarheart. His insides twisted for an all new reason, trying to wrap his head around that level of cruelty.

"He what?" Cedarheart asked, his voice strangled. But Hollowfrost didn't answer him and this conversation had already crossed beyond what they could recover from. The other deputy had the last word, and a horror-stricken Cedarheart would be left in his wake. He stood, as if to follow him, but sat down again with shaking limbs.

'...I still wish I didn't.'

Because he'd wanted to help. Because he was so blindly trusting of that stupid ThunderClan tabby. It didn't matter what he'd said or done, he'd poisoned what little peace Hollowfrost had left. And Cedarheart had lost his brother in the process. He'd already lost his sister because of his carelessness, but at least he hadn't caused it directly. Hollowfrost didn't have to die for Cedarheart to lose him, and somehow he'd never thought he could.

The cinnamon tom didn't get up again, quietly nestling down into the grass and hiding himself behind the reeds again. It felt childish to hide here, like a kit running from their mother whenever they got into trouble, but Cedarheart wasn't sure if he could face the thought of sleeping beside Hollowfrost tonight. He didn't think he could face explaining to everyone else why their deputies wouldn't look each other in the eyes, or why Cedarheart- dependable, trustworthy Cedarheart -couldn't protect his own siblings if their lives depended on it.

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