With her duties for the moment attended to and a bit of time to herself, Featherpaw lay sunning herself on the sun-dappled rocks by the stream that flowed through camp. It was nice to soak up a little sunlight in the cooler days of Leaf-fall, and the apprentice found it helped to calm her nerves a little too, providing a rare moment of relaxation for the youth.
The camp was not very full at this time of day, and those few still present that were not asleep within their dens were busy attending their own daily tasks. Busy enough that no one really paid the young healer any mind. So, Featherpaw had taken this more calming opportunity to snag a reasonable looking mouse from the prey pile, having forgone eating that morning in favor of a quick start on her duties - and avoiding some less friendly faces looking for a meal at the time, of course. A mouse that she had now finished, leaving her instead to rhythmically groom her feathery pelt of any signs of her meal.
Though grooming, the molly was still attentive. Her ears were pricked toward the daily bustle of Gorgeclan's ravine despite the fact that her green eyes had fallen shut in contentment. It was this that saw her catching a grumble of discontent, something that often drew her instinct to help.
She paused in her grooming and opened her eyes to the camp.
"Ah, this shoulder is really starting to bother me again…" The fumble came from a warrior that had just entered camp with a squirrel in his jaws, a slight limp showing the favor to his left shoulder, shielded from her sight. His companion put the blackbird she was carrying on the pile and glanced back toward her denmate with concern. "Still? You should get Flickerfrost to check it for you." The tom huffed in turn, setting his squirrel down by the fallen bird. "Yeah...maybe later."
Sensing the tom's hesitation from the sound of his voice, and wondering if it was perhaps Flickerfrost's attitude that turned him away from treatment, Featherpaw sprung to her paws and trotted toward the pair. Maybe this would be a good way to earn their favor, too? She knew well enough that they were not the fondest of her, but she would hate to let her own nerves get in the way of treating a wound. What if he got an infection, all because it was not treated soon enough thanks to her hesitation? That would be terrible. Plus...her mentor might never let her hear the end of it.
Weaving toward his left side, the apprentice pricked her ears and looked up at the warrior hopefully. "I couldn't help but overhear...w-would you like me to take a look at it?"
The tom turned toward her with a sneer, and his denmate's former look of concern morphed into distaste as she scoffed down at the younger molly. "Yeah right, brat. Like I'd ever let you treat my injuries."
Shocked, despite expecting this in part, Featherpaw pinned her ears back and flinched away, formally friendly eyes widening in surprise and confusion. Sure, she was just an apprentice...but she was doing okay, right? Flickerfrost seemed to trust her, certainly to make a simple diagnosis! She was hardly that incapable….was she? "E-excuse me?"
The molly at his side merely snorted in response. "You heard him," she scolded, narrowing her eyes, before bringing her face closer and lowering her voice to a quiet hiss. "Just because Fangstar let you stay here, don't think it means we trust you. Your mother was Hailstrike-" Her mother's name was spat so venomously that she flinched again. "I bet she put all sorts of thoughts in your mouse-brain. What, do you think you and your precious brother can earn out trust and destroy us from within? Don't make me laugh."
Cowering back on herself, the apprentice shook her head frantically. "N-n-no! I-I would never!" Wondering why no one was even trying to make them back off, the apprentice glanced around the ravine. Beyond a few dubious looks, no one seemed to care much. Featherpaw realised then that likely they could not hear what the two were saying, and both of them looked perfectly calm and relaxed, even if Featherpaw did not. It was hardly unusual to see the apprentice acting anxious, though, so no one seemed to give it much of a second thought.
'They wouldn't care anyway…' she reminded herself silently.
"...Well? Scram." Realising there was not really much use in lingering - she did not have the resolve to stick up for herself, and no one would believe her if she tried to report the behavior of the two warriors - Featherpaw whipped around and scampered out of the ravine.
'Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why can't you ever be brave?!'
It was not long before her paws had carried her to the softer banks of Rushing Waters, though she at least had the sense to slow down at the sound, knowing she would be damned if she fell in. Huffing, Featherpaw sat herself by the bank’s side, and glared into the water. While she looked nothing like Hailstrike, she could still see her mother in the green eyes they shared, and she glared into them.
"This is your fault!” she hissed, before her ears pinned back at the thought of cursing the dead, no matter how horrible they were. Sighing, she lowered her head and squeezed her eyes shut. "...Isn’t it?”
Notes | This is open to anyone that could possibly be at Rushing Waters Tagged | Open!
The crunch of wet earth sighed beneath Falconcry. With each step the ground seemingly exhaled under the pressure, molding again with the release of tension. Sunlight bathed the river in gold as it hummed its bubbly tune.
It was almost always empty here, save for the rustle of prey. The landscape served little purpose to Gorgeclan, so despite its beauty, it was seen as useless.
The tom ambled along the bank, long reeds brushing past his legs. Upstream a hiss whisked sharply against the rushing water.
Curiously Falconcry pricked his ears, following the troubled sound. As he turned the corner a small molly sat near the water's edge, staring below at her reflection. Falconcry recognized her as Featherpaw, Flickerfrosts apprentice. Her face wore anger and defeat.
Maybe I should go, I don’t want to intrude.
As Falconcry turned to leave he hesitated. Guilt pecked at his chest. He couldn’t leave someone who seemed so upset. Falconcry glanced at the apprentice, then back at the water. The tom decided to sit down beside her, keeping some distance.
“Hey, what you looking at?”
He knew she was looking at herself, but didn’t know what else to begin with.
"You know you ought not to be so passive," a voice came from behind the duo. A moment later, Pearfrost's tiny form leaped down from the higher steppes of the bank. She had been slinking around, as usual, the days since Bonestar had left her bored out of her mind. She could not help but do a little... eavesdropping.
Pearfrost took a peculiar interest in Featherpaw and Lionpaw. Who knew the children of Hailstrike could be so distinctly different from their mother? She was impressed, but whether that was a good judgment or a bad impression was yet to be determined. And so, she had witnessed everything in the warrior's den but per her common sense, did not speak out. The Clan did not exactly have a nice opinion of her, either.
Since she had nothing better to do besides lay around and groom, Pearfrost decided it would be a fun little adventure to follow the medicine cat's apprentice. To her disappointment, Featherpaw was not taking the anger out on anyone but herself.
"Good day, Falconcry," she meowed curtly to the tom cat who had also just arrived at the banks. So far she held no ill opinions toward the dark-pelted tom, despite their lingering differences.
The water at Rushing Waters was never too clear, so Pearfrost wondered why Featherpaw even bothered to come here and muse at her own reflection. It was a little dramatic, honestly. She slunk her way up to the bank next to Featherpaw. "Perhaps you should not throw away every part of your mother," she purred but not in empathy, "like her sharp tongue or her tough skin."
The first arrival was as calm as a stream, far more so than the waters that rushed by before her. However, his appearance still startled Featherpaw all the same, and she jolted in surprise at his words, head swiveled to glance toward the russet tom who now sat by the river bank. Well, he had not been there before.
Had she been so distracted as to miss his arrival.
All the same, an answer to his soothing question still stumbled out of her maw in her startled state, a stuttered out thing that they both knew was most certainly untrue. "N-nothing!" It came out as a bit of a squeak, and the molly pressed herself to rectify the awkward stammer, ducking her head as her ears pressed back. "It's...it's nothing. J-Just...thinking, is all." She offered lamely, before her ears flickered to catch the sound of yet another voice that drove her to flinch in both alarm and shame.
While Falconcry was an unfamiliar but seemingly soothing enough presence, Pearfrost was a different tale to tell.
Tail winding anxiously over her paws, the apprentice found herself reflexively moving the barest inch closer to the seemingly less like her mother presence that Falconcry offered, though she did not dare more than that, little more than a twitch to one side as she turned her head to eye the small tabby warrior. Gone was the intent to simply collect herself on her own before heading back to camp - instead she found herself battling within for what best way to respond to the apparent supporter of her late kin.
Where was Wolfpaw whenever she could do with his support?
"I-I don't...th-those aren't important to me..." she admitted meekly, her thoughts drifting back to all she could really picture of her time with her mother. 'What about her claws or her spite?' Featherpaw silently questioned, though outwardly she relented herself to the fact that one of the cats who bore her no ill will due to her mother's actions was always one who seemed to support her awful ways. Turning her head away from Pearfrost, Featherpaw peered ruefully down at her paws, claws kneading into the peaty earth.
However, she did not turn more senses away from the molly, caution keeping one ear in her direction.
"She killed our brother...I w-would have rathered she actually c-cared about us..." she murmured, her voice little more than a whisper, though likely still audible to both felines should they actually bother to listen. Even if she seemed the sort to take in every word for better or worse, though, Pearfrost did not strike Featherpaw as the sort to care. Compassion did not really seem upon her agenda, and the apprentice silently hoped she did not anger her by mistake.
Perhaps Featherpaw wanted to cover up the crimes of the past, but Pearfrost was the kind to face them head on. What Featherpaw might have seen as compassion, Pearfrost saw as weakness. Pearfrost did not care for what her Clanmates thought of her and her past murders in CreekClan. What was past was gone. Cats will judge as they always do.
"Maybe if you found those a little more important, you would be able to confront those grumpy warriors who question your abilities as medicine cat."
Pearfrost silently wondered if this stuttering she-cat would continue to be as passive and as nervous as she currently was. Seeing to her own mother's tragic passiveness, Pearfrost did not believe that was a good thing. Or perhaps, it was just a phase and the young cat was shy in becoming medicine cat apprentice.
"I'm not saying Hailstrike was close to a kind or honorable cat," Pearfrost continued, ignoring Featherpaw's nervous stuttering. Unlike Featherpaw, her words were smooth and fluid. "But if you never accept who you are, and the fact that she was your mother, you'll never be able to move forward from it."
It was true of Pearfrost's own family as well. Her mother was a passive as a kittypet and her father was as hot-headed as Bonestar himself. Pearfrost had never intended to be like either of them, and never will. However, her controversial family still remained a part of her she would never forget, and a part of her that she refused to feel ashamed of.
"There's a dark and a light in all of us, don't you think?" Pearfrost tilted her head at Featherpaw, no emotion or empathy was offered in her gaze, only question. This was not a situation where Pearfrost would offer the tiny inkling of compassion she had left. No, she would only watch with peculiar interest and wonder where her words might steer the younger she-cat. The question was posed almost as though it were a challenge.
It was also a question for herself. Since Bonestar's fall, Pearfrost had not yet decided if she was truly a good or an evil cat. What she had been told as "good" for her whole life ended up being evil. And to this day, she struggled to contain the parts of her that yearned for glory and power.
Falconcry nodded and forced a modest smile, but his eyes shone with concern. He was aware of Featherpaw’s history and couldn’t begin to imagine the hardships that it had caused.
“Well, I hope you only think good thoughts. Bad thoughts only weigh on your greatness!”
Another tone permeated Falconcrys one good ear, sending chills shivering down his back. The voice was straight as an arrow, piercing the soft hush of the river. He shifted to see a small she-cat sitting on the opposite side of the apprentice.
Of course, that voice could only belong to Pearfrost. While her stature was small the spirit of her presence greatly made up for it. She reminded Falconcry of a small snake basking in the sun.
The russet tom turned to Pearfrost, his eyes bore neutral. He tried not to have an opinion on the she-cat, but the way she carried herself seemed to only further prove the gossip.
“Good day to you too Pearfrost.”
The tom faced the water once more, but he never stopped listening. Featherpaw’s stammering voice broke the warrior's heart and Pearfrosts questions irked him greatly. The more Pearfrost pried the more it agitated Falconcry.
"But if you never accept who you are, and the fact that she was your mother, you'll never be able to move forward from it." … "There's a dark and a light in all of us, don't you think?"
A feeling of unease bubbled in his core. Upon his face, distaste. He couldn’t hold his tongue.
“Thankfully we live in a time of regrowth. Featherpaw, you get to choose whoever you want to be and what you represent. You’ll make a great medicine cat one day.”
Falconcry turned to Pearfrost a straight smile plastered against his expression, his honey eyes gazing directly into her own.
While what Featherpaw said made sense to some degree, even to the stuttering little healer, Featherpaw in turn refused to fully accept it. It would go against her very nature to be so blunt and callous, and while she knew standing up for herself a little more would be a good thing, it seemed Pearfrost was implying she be more like...the thought of being anything like her mother positively chilled her. Wolfpaw was already part way there and she knew he hated the comparison, especially when he saw it in her own eyes.
Featherpaw wished she could get over that, but sometimes she could not help but shy from the reminders.
Still, the thought of Wolfpaw and how he always defended her did at least give her a few words, even if they still came out a little meek and rather lacking in resolve. "I-I want them to b-believe in me because I do g-good for the clan...not because I start acting like her." Her next few words were added in a softer, quieter tone, barely even audible as she stared down at her mismatched forepaws. "I just want them to look past who raised me..."
Pearfrost, however, seemed certain in her opinion. She was bold and sharp, very sure that she was right, at least it seemed to Featherpaw. She could not help a slight shiver at the familiarity of it, though at least she had not brought claws and fangs upon her yet. Still, the apprentice did not have much resolve left in herself to combat anymore of what the warrior was saying, soe she set her ears slightly back and stared numbly into the river.
Silently, she argued. Yet aloud? She did not have the guts to provoke her mother's ally.
Fortunately, Falconcry seemed to have a little more strength to him regarding the older warrior, and Featherpaw pricked an ear toward him, olive gaze raising in his direction as she listened. A great medicine cat?
With the praise ringing in her head, the apprentice barely noticed the slight challenge the tom sent Pearfrost's way. Instead, Featherpaw's eyes seemed to brighten a little, and she blinked at the tom gratefully. At least one more cat was on her side, right? It was a huge comfort, to be honest, and it warmed her timid little heart. "Th-thank you. I'm...I'm trying my best...Flickerfrost seems to th-think I am doing well...but its h-hard to tell with her..." the apprentice admitted, pleased at least to transfer her attention for the moment to the nicer of her companions.
She still wished Pearfrost had just deigned to leave them be.
The small she-cat rolled on her side in boredom. For StarClan's sake, everyone in the Clan was so boring. They had no spunk. No independent thought. Everything was just a product of the past. She hated it.
"Yes, of course," she gave a half-hearted purr at Falconcry's words and met his eyes, but hers sparkled with amusement. How uplifting. Pearfrost could not help giving a chuckle. If the other cats thought they were arguing with her, it was not like she was in the mood to argue. She was in way too much trouble with the Clan and their Clan's "reformed" ways to stir up more.
Perhaps part of her just strove to have somebody to talk to. Much of the Clan avoided her at this point, and even now, she was just butting into their conversation. She did not dislike Falconcry. Maybe in another life at another time they might have even been friends. But not now. She was much too skeptical of other cats in her head for now.
"You're not acting like any cat, Feathers," Pearfrost rolled her eyes and tried to offer some gentler words for the shrinking she. As if that timid little molly could take on the personality of someone else. "But you really just got to figure out yourself and own it. Don't you ever get bored of those cats throwing the same insults at you over and over again?"
Some cats are born good. Some have an inherent hope of contributing positively to the Clan. Pearfrost was not one of those cats, and she thought she had been rather disciplined despite her nature in the past few moons. Boredom itched at her paws though. She needed an adventure. Peace was a little too much to bear for her. Would she be herself but garner the hatred of the Clan? Or would she lose herself to fit in?