"It's nice to meet you, Applepaw," the RiverClan apprentice mewed. "I'm Ripplepaw. How are you?"
"I'm excited," she purred, whisking her tail side to side. "It's been moons since I've gotten to go to a Gathering!"
"Same!" Ripplepaw happily sat down beside the ThunderClan cat. "Last time I was here, Lightningsong had just retired and wanted me and my littermates all to go. That was when Pinkeyes and Minnowfeather were still apprentices." When Pinkeyes was still alive, he added silently to himself.
"The Gathering may begin!" Antstar called weakly over the din. "ShadowClan fared the flood rather well. The prey continues to run, though our paws are a bit wetter than expected." He turned to Shrewstar. "What does SkyClan have to report?"
The yellow-eyed cat mewed, "Rivermist has given birth to a healthy litter of three kits. Since the last Gathering, we have made Oatpaw an apprentice, and Quietstorm has become a warrior."
"Quietstorm! Quietstorm!" the Clans cheered. Ripplepaw say the SkyClan she-cat holding her head high as the cats celebrated her change in rank.
Shadeflower went next. "Flintstar has also given birth to three kits: Rabbitkit, Stonekit, and Owlkit. She chose not to attend to Gathering tonight, so I am taking her place for the time being. Spiderclaw and Cedarmist have both retired."
"We fought off a badger two sunrises ago and it made it's way towards the Carrionplace," Shadeflower continued, glancing at Antstar. "I ask that ShadowClan please be careful."
Shorestar sat up. "RiverClan lost one of our warriors during the flood; Barkfur has joined StarClan. We made two new warriors, Pinkeyes and Minnowfeather--" the cats started to cheer, but the RiverCan leader held up a paw for silence-- "but sadly Pinkeyes also joined StarClan after ThunderClan invaded our territory."
There were murmurs of confusion from the other Clans. "I think you mean our territory," Flamingstar chuckled. "We chased you patrol off, but not before you could murder Peltstone in cold blood."
Shorestar's eyes flashed angrily and several cats tensed. Ripplepaw watched his mother carefully; was she going to start a war?
"The Sunningrocks belongs to RiverClan. It has belonged to RiverClan since Riverstar founded it." Shorestar lashed her tail as she spoke, bitterness filling her mew. "Any deaths are not the fault of RiverClan; you trespassed, Flamingstar. You led the patrol. Any reasonable leader would've waited for our patrol and come to speak to us in a manner befitting a real Clan."
"ThunderClan is just as much a Clan as the others," Flamingstar hissed.
"Hush, both of you," a gray cat called. "StarClan would not want us to fight at a Gathering!"
"Honeypaw is right," Aspenthroat agreed, looking at Antstar. "The Clans mustn't fight."
"They haven't covered the moon," Shadeflower pointed out, looking at the clear sky. "They must want us to settle it now... WindClan will have to discuss the issue with Flintstar after we return home."
"The land belongs to RiverClan, I think," Antstar said.
"I am inclined to agree," added Shrewstar.
Flamingstar's eyes flared with rage. "Our ancestors changed the course of the river. That land is ours..." He paused and sniffed the air. "If we must, though, we will discuss it another day. with the death of Peltstone--" he narrowed his eyes at Strikeclaw-- "I have appointed Morningstep our deputy. Lynxpaw and Wolfpaw have been apprenticed."
"Morningstep! Lynxpaw! Wolfpaw!"
"Is there anything else to report?" Flamingstar asked. The other leaders shook their heads. "Then the Gathering is over."
Applepaw glanced at Ripplepaw. "Did Leafpaw really kill that cat?" she mewed sadly.
Ripplepaw looked away. "She did..."
"Ripplepaw!" Havenpaw's harsh hiss interrupted the pair before Applepaw could reply. "Why are you talking to a ThunderClan cat? They murdered Pinkeyes and trespassed on our land!"
"We're allowed to get to know other cats--"
"You shouldn't be talking to ThunderClan. Have you already forgotten what they did?" his brother's sharp mew replied.
"No cat has forgotten Pinkeyes," Quickflash interrupted as she and Strikeclaw padded over. "I told Ripplepaw to get to know some of the other cats. He can be a bit too shy sometimes."
"Even so, tensions are a bit high for new friendships," Strikeclaw added. "Ripplepaw was being admirable by reaching out to another cat because of it. You ought to be ashamed, Havenpaw. Mothear will be hearing about your behaviour." Ripplepaw couldn't help but beam. Strikeclaw had praised him? It was easier to get a kittypet to eat a mouse than to pull a compliment from the senior warrior. "Now let's get home."
Ripplepaw looked at Applepaw. "It was nice to meet you," he purred.
"You, too," she purred. "I'll see you again one day."