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"Thank goodness I've found you. I thought I'd be wandering around this creepy forest all night. I've come to tell you that your housefolk are back, and they've fixed their dens after the fire. Won't you come home where it's safe?"
Ajax to Velvet and Fuzzball in River of Fire, page 235

Below contains in-depth information for chapter eighteen of River of Fire. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
Chapter Number: 18 (of 21)
Page Numbers: 230-240

Chapter description

Alderheart watches Velvet pad around camp to watch Ivypool's kits play. They both watch in amusement, and then start to walk together. He thinks sadly that it's been a quarter moon since Briarlight died, and she'd have loved to see the kits. Alderheart tells Velvet that her leg is much better, due to her not limping at all. He's glad she's better, but is wistful at the thought of her leaving for the Twolegplace. The tom hopes they'll still be friends, and both cats walk back into the center of the clearing. Velvet spots Bramblestar talking with Sparkpelt and Larksong, and comments that they seem happy. Alderheart agrees, but says he'd better get back to sorting herbs. He leads Velvet back to the medicine cats' den, and the she-cat offers to help him. They are amused to find Fuzzball bothering Jayfeather, even though the kittypet is oblivious to it.
Rosepetal is in the den because of a sore throat, and Jayfeather suggests that it might be a good idea for her to spend the night here. The medicine cat then asks how Velvet's leg is, and she says it's fine, but is confused by the change in subject. Jayfeather sniffs the wound, agreeing, and then says she should move into the apprentice's den with Fuzzball so that there's room for Rosepetal. Alderheart is angry that this is happening, knowing the blind tom is separating him and Velvet purposefully. He knows Jayfeather feels threatened by them being together, but wonders why it's necessary to make her feel so unwelcome.
Velvet sadly says that she doesn't know when she'll be able to return to the Twolegplace, due to her housefolk not being home. She agrees that she should move out of the medicine den, and Alderheart makes an effort to smooth his pelt, seeing Jayfeather's logic. While Jayfeather goes to fetch the honey for Rosepetal, Twigpaw bundles into the den. She announces that Sparkpelt and Bramblestar say she's ready for her assessment, and that Larksong is going to assess Finpaw too. Alderheart congratulates her, and Jayfeather waspishly mews that he's glad she decided to settle down. Rosepetal tells Twigpaw to ignore him, saying that they're all very pleased. Alderheart thinks happily that the tiny kit he and Needletail will finally get to become a warrior.
The medicine cat turns to Velvet, offering to help her settle into the apprentices' den. Twigpaw says she can help, commenting that she'll make a nest. The gray apprentice is still very excited, and heads out of the den. Alderheart and Velvet follow more slowly, and the medicine cat murmurs that he'll miss having her around. They pad across camp, and he asks if she'll still come and help in the medicine den during the day. Velvet begins to reply, but is cut off by a patrol returning.
Ajax is with the patrol, and Velvet exclaims his name. She says that he's a kittypet she knows, whose housefolk live a few dens down from hers. The she-cat moves to greet her friend, but is cut off by Squirrelflight, who asks what's happening. The warriors report that they found him on ThunderClan territory, and brought the tom here because he was looking for Velvet and Fuzzball. Bramblestar asks why he's looking for them, and others chime in that they shouldn't take in any more kittypets. Ajax protests that he doesn't want to stay, and just came to talk to Velvet and Fuzzball. The two kittypets slip through the crowd to greet their friend, while the Clan watches.
Ajax says he's glad he found them, so he didn't have to wander around in a creepy forest all night. He tells them that their housefolk are back, and have fixed their dens after the fire. Ajax asks if they'll come back, and Fuzzball says it's great here, but that he misses his housefolk. He gazes around, and thanks the Clan cats for their friendship. Alderheart gives Velvet a long look, thinking that he'll miss her. Bramblestar meows that this is good news, and invites them to stay the night since it's already getting dark. The trio are led over to the apprentices' den, but Ajax mutters to his friends that he's not sure about this. He expresses his disdain, but Fuzzball dashes over to the fresh-kill pile, bringing him a thrush. Ajax struggles to stay polite, but declines the meal.
Alderheart mews to Velvet that her friend is a bit weird, and fetches a vole for them to share. They crouch side by side to eat it as the twilight gathers. Velvet says she knows, but that he's a good friend to come all this way to find her and Fuzzball, since he rarely strays too far. Alderheart asks her if she wants to go back to her Twolegs, and he hopes she'll stay, even though it's a bad idea. Velvet hesitates, but says she does, even though there are some parts of Clan life she's going to miss. The kittypet gives him a shy, sideways glance, and he realizes she's talking about him. Alderheart isn't sure how to respond, and instead works on finish his part of the vole.
Later that night, the den seems empty without Velvet sleeping close to him. Alderheart leaves the den, and Jayfeather follows. The blind tom says it one might think it'll be easier outside the medicine den, but it won't. Alderheart asks what he means, and the tom replies that he knows he and Velvet are starting to care for each other. Jayfeather continues that the story always ends badly, and that while he can have feelings, he can't act on them. He recounts the story of Leafpool, and insists that they need Alderheart in ThunderClan, because he's a good medicine cat. The dark ginger tom is stunned with the praise, and admits that he liked Velvet, but he'd never leave. Jayfeather surprised, asking if he wasn't thinking about going to the Twolegplace with her. Alderheart says no, but was only contemplating how to say goodbye. Jayfeather heads back into the den, and the dark ginger tom watches him go with a purr of affection.
At dawn, Alderheart hovers at the entrance to the medicine den as Velvet and Fuzzball say their goodbyes. The medicine cat wants to hide, but sees the gray she-cat glancing around, trying to catch his scent. He walks out of the den and pads across camp, and Velvet comes to meet him. He mews that he'll miss having her around, and she says the same. However, she notes that there's no way they could be together, because she can't stay here, and he has responsibilities. Alderheart nods, telling her thanks for understanding. He says that he'll never forget, and the two cats touch noses briefly. They say goodbye, and Ajax calls for Velvet to hurry up. The she-cat tells Alderheart she has to go, and trots briskly after her friends. The medicine cat calls out a final goodbye, and sits as Velvet's scent slowly drifts from the air.





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