As was to be expected of the youthful healer trainee, Featherpaw had buried herself in her work within the medicine cave, hiding away from the social going ons of camp and the - potentially imagined - constant criticism of her peers for her bloodline and youth as an outsider. Gorgeclan may not have come out of this mess as healthy in numbers as Mossclan managed to, but the fact they were not nearly as shattered as Creekclan became saw most of the cats to be full-blooded Gorgeclanners with rare and minimal relations to their former leader. So, Featherpaw and her brother often found themselves looked upon the same as those that willingly followed the tyrant yet were now trying to show loyalty anew to Fangstar, keeping them within the clan yet despairingly judged.
At least, that was how she tended to see it.
So, Featherpaw preferred to busy herself instead. The harder she tried to invest herself in serving them and the less she bothered anyone, the sooner she would be dismissed as just another ordinary apprentice, rather than the deadly Hailstrike's flesh and blood. She would much rather be overlooked than judged, though part of her still could not quench the softer desire to be treasured and loved by her clan, hence why she worked as diligently as she could despite the doubt she harbored in herself.
It was as she was carefully sorting through various leaves and other herbs, delicately parting the good from the bad and ensuring that the piles were left to Flickerfrost's liking, that a scent floated toward her. While she made mistakes few and far between when she was collecting and sorting, or treating unconscious patients because in truth she was a careful and diligent apprentice, when it came to wakeful company...well, her nerves often overtook her senses and rewired her brain to a scrambled mess. Especially certain company. Like those of importance. Or those particularly wary of her and Lionpaw. This approachee was far from an exception to this, and it took all the young molly's self control not to promptly squash and splatter the berries she was sorting across the den floor. Instead, she managed to hurriedly nudge them back into place, checking thrice that the pile was respectably neat, before shuffling back and scurrying toward the scent.
She would never keep the arrival waiting, yet she could not help but cringe slightly inward anyway, ears settling back slightly as she peered up at the tabby with wide, rounded eyes.
"Fangstar, h-hi!" She stuttered out, before her ears settled back a little further, inwardly scolding herself for her stumbling, awkward and terribly informal greeting to her leader. Quick to amend herself, the apprentice hurried on, casting an anxious glance around for her surly mentor. "Wh-what can we do for you t-today? F-Flickerfrost went to ch-check on an elder...she should be back soon..."
Realizing suddenly she stood in the way of the leader entering their cave, Featherpaw cast one more glance toward her mentor's current location - the aforementioned elder's den - before backing aside with a dip of her head, clearing the way for Fangstar to enter the den.
Notes | Had to have an excuse for why it was just her, hope ya'll don't mind! Lemme know if I need to edit ^^ Tagged | fangstar, Flickerfrost
When was the last time she had checked up on her medicine cats? Fangstar couldn't quite remember, which meant it had been too long. Since before the last Gathering, at least. A frown settled on the molly's face at the thought that she hadn't reached out to make sure they were both still doing fine. Leaf-fall was upon them, after all, and if she could arrange for some warrior to assist them then she would.
Those were her thoughts as she clutched her prize in her mouth and carefully limped back to the camp. The rabbit was big, living in the Thorn Thicket with few predators, and helped to balance out her favored leg. The sheer luck of it! Cold of leaf-bare had not arrived yet, but the day was just on the edge enough that she had to hide the limp she would always carry. And to have a thorn stuck in that same pad?
A perfect excuse to show a little embarrassed weakness instead of the permanent one. Her approach to the medicine cat den was met with little fanfare, the few gathered cats too busy moving to their duties to do more than nod at her. Fangstar placed the rabbit at the fresh-kill pile on her way past and came upon the entrance to the den - and a rather flustered apprentice.
Green eyes narrowed as Featherpaw stuttered through a greeting and explanation on where her mentor was. Two moons and she was still this jumpy around her clanmates? Around her leader? Featherpaw finally realized she was blocking the way and the tabby molly limped past to settle on her favored spot, with a clear line of sight to every inch of the room so long as she turned her head a bit. "Quit standing there fretting," she meowed sternly. There was no way the other cats would take her seriously if she stayed this nervous. She almost didn't herself but Flickerfrost knew what she was doing. "I caught a thorn in the Thicket and can't get it out myself. I'm sure you can manage to help me." Left unsaid was how she didn't want to strain herself bending to reach that back paw. If Featherpaw didn't know of her old injuries, she would not be the one to tell her. Not yet.
Flickerfrost was, in fact, taking care of the elders, one of the few groups in GorgeClan that could claim they were unable to do anything during Bonestar's reign of terror. Hawkmaw had a small cough, and though it wasn't anything serious, Flickerfrost wanted to catch it and treat it before it got worse, or worse yet, turned into whitecough or greencough or even, StarClan forbid, blackcough.
He was sleeping when she left the den, warmed by his denmates and lungs clear. It gave her a sense of relief - despite loving being a caregiver, elders simply could not fight off illnesses like any other cat and if something were to happen, she wasn't sure they had enough supplies to last a bout of greencough this early in the season. She was looking forward to gathering up her apprentice and searching for catmint that she could further soothe her own worries and enjoy a nice evening off to herself.
So when she got back to her den just as Fangstar was disappearing inside of it, she was less than pleased. She entered at the tail-end of his sentence, just managing to catch 'and I can't get it out myself'. Her eyes rolled before she could think about stopping them as she made her appearance.
"What, are you too used to sitting around on your throne that you can't be bothered to bend and grab it yourself?" Flickerfrost scoffed, first eyeing Fangstar and then squinting at Featherpaw and keeping her gaze trained on her apprentice. It was moments after that she finally dragged her gaze away, padding over to the herb storage and promptly pulling out a stash of berries. "I thought you were going to go through this today, Featherpaw," she snapped, gently sorting through them. She kept her back to her apprentice and their guest, making it clear that Featherpaw was to handle it herself. A thorn. Don't make her laugh.
A thorn? Yes, well, at least Featherpaw was confident she could manage that much. Removing thorns was easy, right? Much better than an infection or a broken bone, or an eye injury or...Shaking aside her twirling thoughts, the little molly nodded swiftly and willed herself into some semblance of business mode. "R-right, of course!"
Only to find herself interrupted by her mentor as soon as she began to inspect the injury. Flickerfrost had always been rather rude, and toward her leader seemed to be no exception. Really, apart from when it came to kits, Featherpaw was not sure there was an exception. Well, sometimes certain apprentices, but that was much rarer because apprentices were more prone to complaining than their other patients anyway. Ears flicking back, Featherpaw decided not to comment on her mentor's bad manners.
Rather, the older healer did not earn a verbal acknowledgement from her apprentice until she addressed her directly, to which the young smoke flinched slightly. "I was just starting to wh-when Fangstar came in...I didn't want to leave them in the m-middle of the den, so I put them back..." she offered meekly, casting a brief glance toward the surly molly, before returning her attention swiftly to the thorn once she saw Flickerfrost was already settling about sorting them herself.
Giving the wound another careful sniff, Featherpaw gripped the thorn delicately in her teeth, before tugging it out and spitting it aside. At least she could count on her leader not to screech about the brief pain like a kit. Figuring if the leader could not even pull it out herself she was unlikely to clean it herself too, Featherpaw set about gently lapping at the wound. It stopped bleeding rather quickly, and the apprentice pulled back to peer at it.
No infection, that much was clear. Clean now, and very little swelling too. At least Fangstar seemed to have been careful with it. Now, though, Featherpaw found herself uncertain. Should she put something on it? Of course, she knew herbs to treat wounds and stop infections from occurring, but was it worth it to spend precious Leaf-Fall herbs on such a minor affliction. If this were a more careless feline, perhaps, but Featherpaw figured that Fangstar would make sure to clean it and let them know if she had any problems. Right?
Hopeful her decision was right, the little molly took a step back and sat down. "There, it sh-should be fine so long as it stays clean," she offered, before casting a cautious glance toward Flickerfrost's back. "...right?"
Fangstar's ears swiveled at Flickerfrost's voice and she couldn't help the smirk at her medicine cat's words. Always a ray of sunshine, that one. She could have gotten it out if she wanted to, of course. The molly listened idly as the two other cats spoke to each other. A pang of pity went through her heart at hearing she had interrupted Featherpaw's assignment but nothing showed on her face.
The thorn's removal sent brief pain flickering through her expression before it smoothed out once more. Fangstar sat still as Featherpaw cleaned it and seemed to be debating something. She was almost proud as the apprentice made her decision and declared her good to go until she turned to seek reassurance from Flickerfrost. Truly, Featherpaw needed to find her footing sooner than later. Gorgeclan was no place for those as unsure of themselves as her, especially now still so soon after Bonestar.
"Flickerfrost," she meowed to gain the cat's attention. "It has been too long since I last spoke with you. Is there anything you need help with gathering to prepare for leaf-bare?" Perhaps she and Ferretmask could go out. Set an example to the others?
Though she ultimately meant for Featherpaw to care for Fangstar, she kept an ear trained on them should anything go wrong. It didn't stray her attention from her berries, however, skilled paws sorting through what was fresh and usable versus what needed to be thrown out. She was gentle but quick, years of experience forcing her paws through repetitive motion until there were two different piles and she was done. She probably didn't even really need to focus on them as much as she was, but she'd rather be safe than sorry, especially when herbs were beginning to be killed off. Flickerfrost pushed the sorted berries back into their crevice, the unusable shoved to the side, and pulled out another bundle of herbs just as Featherpaw called for validation.
"What do you think?" Learn from experience. "I'm sure even our great and powerful leader can manage to take care of a small cut, if you've cleaned it, you can send our patient on their way." She hadn't even bothered to turn, trusting that Featherpaw, as cautious and worried as she was, could sufficiently take care of a wound that she had probably done numerous times and seen taken care of many more. With that small annoyance out of the way, maybe Flickerfrost could finally take Featherpaw out and they could get the herbs they needed. Or, perhaps not.
"Maybe that's because I've been busy taking care of the Clan while you've been trotting around like you're the best thing that ever happened to GorgeClan. Some of us are too busy for idle conversation," she growled, teeth bared though no cat could see it. "And thanks, but I'll pass. I'd rather not have to worry about your warriors killing me where no cat can see. I'll take my chances."
Flickerfrost shoved the herbs she was working on back into their spot, kicking the dead ones to the side. She'd clean them later. Finally spinning around, she jerked her head to the entrance of the den. "Come, Featherpaw." Nose scrunched, she turned to address Fangstar. "Will that be all? Or do you have a burr stuck to your tail as well," she dryly questioned.
While her mentor's tone was as icy and short-tempered as ever, Featherpaw did not even flinch at the common occurrence. Instead, she nodded, appreciative at least of Flickerfrost's confirmation that she had done her job right, and the hint of faith in her abilities in the way she did not even turn to inspect what she had done. Deciding that there was no reason in adding anything more than she or her mentor already had, the apprentice dipped her head to her leader, only to close her jaws over the farewell she had been about to offer.
Well then, it seemed Fangstar would be lingering a moment longer.
Unsurprisingly, Flickerfrost was hardly well receiving of such. Featherpaw had already felt tentative over the leader's implication of idle discussion and offer for help which was never really something too well received by the older medicine cat, but Flickerfrost's next words confirmed her own voiceless judgement even further. Insults, bared teeth and a rather irritated rebuttal was as much as the leader was offered, and not for the first time, Featherpaw was glad not to be on the receiving end of Flickerfrost's attitude. Compared to her mentor's earlier response to her uncertainties, this one was far more of a sting to receive, she figured.
At Flickerfrost's signal, Featherpaw obediently made to accompany her mentor, pausing only to peer questioningly between the healer and leader, deciding it would be rude to leave the den before either of them, especially should Flickerfrost not end up leaving after all, if Fangstar actually required something beyond the removal or the thorn or something that would clearly be refused.
Flickerfrost never did disappoint. It was interesting to see how the two interacted with one another, especially with her presence among them. Her words stung a bit, though nothing showed on Fangstar's face. Just Flickerfrost being Flickerfrost, or something that was truly thought between her clanmates? Something to keep in mind at least.
Dismissed by the cats, even if Featherpaw seemed willing if reluctant to stay, Fangstar stood and tested her foot. Thorn gone, duties done for the moment, she steeled herself in habit against her limp. Leaf-fall is here and leaf-bare is around the bend. I don't need anything until the cold has truly set in, she firmly reminded herself. Fangstar left the den first, a thank you given to Featherpaw as she passed. "And good luck with your gathering. If you change your mind -" even saying that made another amused look try to creep up, knowing her offer would never be taken, "- do let me know." She moved off to her own den without waiting for a reply and lay down, carefully stretching out in her nest.
Flickerfrost allowed Fangstar to pass with a wordless snarl, ears flicked backwards in her disgust. Foolish. How dare she? As if Flickerfrost wasn't doing enough to take care of their supplies or their clanmates. How dare Fangstar offer her assistance when she should be working on repairing the clan? Ridiculous! She waited just long enough that Fangstar would have cleared the entrance and hopefully be out of sight to make her leave. "Featherpaw!" Her voice was a whip, tone snapping with just that one word, and she stalked away from the den, tail lashing as the only signal that they were leaving, and they were leaving now.
There were Clanmates scattered around as she exited, but she paid them absolutely no mind as she stalked past. She wasn't concerned with whether or not they were going to try and talk to her, she had no intentions of stopping and replying. Flickerfrost also hadn't intended to be in such as foul mood that day, but something about Fangstar had set her off immediately, zero to a hundred. Her blood boiled, and she was glad they were leaving camp.
She didn't pay much mind to Featherpaw until they were a fair distance from camp, where she abruptly stopped. She hoped the apprentice was still following her, or she was going to look pretty stupid, talking without turning around to see if she was behind her. "You've been in the den all day, what do we need most, Featherpaw?'
Flickerfrost's mood had certainly soured considerably due to Fangstar, and that was saying something. Featherpaw remained in silence, watching the leader leave with uncertainty, until she was entirely out of sight. It was for a moment longer that she continued to stand there, a little lost in her hesitancy in confusion.
Flickerfrost's sharp tone snapped her out of it, causing her to flinch into action.
Trotting obediently after her mentor just to keep up with her hurried pace that easily outmatched Featherpaw's own relatively small size that had even yet to finish growing, the apprentice kept her head lowered and her eyes only flickering occasionally to the cats that passed. At least one sneered at her as she moved, another narrowing their eyes, yet Featherpawrefused to let it make her pause.
Flickerfrost was in enough of a bad mood as it was.
By the time her mentor stopped, Featherpaw was not surprised to see she did not turn to look at her. In Featherpaw's mind, she assumed it was because her mentor knew by now how inevitably obedient she was, even within just one and a half moons of training. Slowing to a walk herself, the apprentice padded a few more steps to catch up with her mentor fully, before thinking back to her sorting before Fangstar had come in.
While uncertain in exactly where and when to find things, and not quite confident in her ability to apply them properly and remember so many things, at the very least the apprentice could easily enough identify what was lacking from their stocks, which made her a little more confident and less likely to forget things due to stress.
"W-we are running low on tansy and coltsfoot," she began, knowing at least those were important through the colder seasons to treat all the coughs, cracked pads and breathing troubles that had occurred during her first clan leafbare. "And...we c-could do with daisy and dandelion leaves t-too..." Elders needed those for aches right? She was sure one of those was for that!
Still, her uncertainty boosted her nervousness, and the apprentice ducked her head, shuffling her paws uncertainly as she waited to be told wrong, or on a rare instance, praised for getting something right. It was not necessarily that Featherpaw was bad, it was more so her lack of confidence, paired with Flickerfrost's impatience and shorter temper.
Really it was not the best mix, anyone could see that.
Part of Flickerfrost was relieved that Featherpaw was, in fact, behind her. The little voice in the back of her head that insisted one day, she'd go too far, sneered at her. Part of her wasn't surprised in the slightest. Featherpaw would be a great medicine cat one day, if only she'd get over her own insecurities. She'd learn. Flickerfrost would make her if she had to. "Correct," she stated, saying no more. Perhaps she had been a bit harsh on the apprentice earlier, but Fangstar made her blood boil in ways she hadn't expected. Her anger towards her apprentice was unprecedented. She should apologize. She knew she wouldn't.
Now, for the harder part. Flickerfrost had taken Featherpaw out before, but she didn't expect the apprentice to remember where everything was. She certainly hadn't when she was young. It would be more of a lesson than a scolding, but Featherpaw wouldn't know that. "Where will we go to find each of those?" She heard the scuffling behind her and kept her back turned, unwilling to see the scowl permanently taking over her features. Relax. Just relax. If Featherpaw was wrong, that was fine. She'd show her where the herbs really were and then they could be on their way. Flickerfrost could go off on her own and relax and not blow up on anyone.
Flickerfrost flattened her fur from where it was continuing to rise, forcing herself to breathe in, hold it, and breathe out. It worked, for what it was worth. Out there, in the territory that stood for moons upon moons longer than her or anyone in the Clan, she could breathe, remove herself from the tensions of being in camp surrounded by cats she wasn't sure she could trust. Now, if only it could stay like that.
Correct. A single word, but a relieving one. Really, it was as close to praise as Featherpaw knew to expect from Flickerfrost, and thus any semblance of confirmation was a true relief to her. She had done well, Flickerfrost was just on edge - hardly uncommon, and definitely more likely whenever Fangstar was around.
For the life of her though...Featherpaw could not understand the tension there.
Casting those thoughts aside, for it was certainly not any of her business whatever sour blood lay between her mentor and leader, Featherpaw instead pricked her ears toward her mentor. Part of her wanted to press against the older molly's side, like she often did with those she felt closer to when they were on edge or upset - however, she did not know what boundaries lay between them, and if she was honest, at times Flickerfrost's temper reminded Featherpaw of her mother.
That thought alone was enough to keep her paws rooted in place.
Unfortunately, the question posed to her was not an easy one. She did not remember where everything grew, and she sorely hoped the molly did not expect her to. Surely this was just a test of what she still needed to work on, right? Would Flickerfrost get mad? Deciding not to risk giving a wrong locational answer, she decided to give a more general basis of her knowledge.
"D-dandelion and daisy are pretty c-common in most places..." she offered uncertainly, tail flicking briefly behind her as she went on. "A-and tansy would be somewhere in the forest...but Coltsfoot is usually i-in wetter p-places, right?"
Blinking toward her mentor, Featherpaw paused a moment, before thinking a little further.
"S-so if we looked for tansy f-first, we might find daisy and d-dandelion close by too?" if only she could be more certain that she was correct. Now all she could do was wait with bated breath for confirmation, or brace herself for a scolding. At least Flickerfrost tended to keep her claws to herself - probably not wanting to give herself more wounds to treat.
Flickerfrost waited, ears pricked back for when Featherpaw finally gave her answer. She wouldn't rush her. The apprentice was already nervous enough as was, rushing her would only serve to cause more problems. So she waited, eyes scanning the territory ahead while she did so. She wondered idly if patrols had brought back much fresh-kill, perhaps something they could award themselves after a long day of herb-gathering. Finally, when Featherpaw decided to speak, Flickerfrost whirled around, teeth clenched tight. The apprentice was right, so why couldn't she just have faith in herself? She hadn't given an exact answer. It was so aggravating. She needed to be more confident.
But just as Flickerfrost opened her maw to say anything, she caught a good look at her apprentice - and she saw herself, an apprentice, eager to learn and please her mentor, one not willing to be wrong. They weren't too different, Flickerfrost and Featherpaw. So she bit back her retort until her cheek stung, nodding mutely. "Correct," she stated again, pondering the best choice of action. "But it would be best to look for Coltsfoot first. It gets colder the closer you get to water, so that'll be dying off first, save us from a more miserable trip later. We can check by the river and wrap back around through the forest back to camp. Like you said," she paused, getting to her feet and stretching, "it's good for coughs. Whitecough will soon be hitting and it'll be easier to cure if we have the supplies. Come along now."
Instead of taking off like she had earlier, she slowed her pace just enough that Featherpaw would be able to easily keep up with her. Now, whether or not she did was something that Flickerfrost couldn't control but, at least she put forth the effort. "Stay close to me. Don't stray."
The moment her mentor whirled on her, teeth bared, Featherpaw could not help but flinch back. No matter how much she told herself that surely Flickerfrost would not hurt her...well, she could not get the possibility of violence out of her mind. So, the little molly took a few steps back, body lowering slightly and ears folding back as she stared up at her mentor in alarm.
Only to blink in surprise, and admittedly, a little confusion.
Uncertain, Featherpaw watched as her mentor snapped her maw shut and gave a nod, confirming her timid guesses as correct. Cautiously, sensing the admittedly imagined danger had passed, the apprentice let herself slowly relax, ears tapering forward again as she straightened. However, she did not move back to stand by her mentor, and her head ducked to peer uncertainly down at her shuffling forepaws.
Despite this her ears remained alert and listening. While she did not respond beyond a jerky nod and a stuttered "r-right,", it was clear that Featherpaw was soaking in every bit of information her mentor gave her, quietly mapping out general directions and gazing around herself once more to be certain.
As she was told to follow, Featherpaw readied herself to go bounding obediently after her mentor, only to blink in surprise once more as Flickerfrost kept her pace slower this time. Tail twitching uncertainly behind her, Featherpaw refused to let herself hesitate a moment longer, and trotted to catch up, falling to a walk some distance from her mentor's flank as she peered around.
Perhaps this was not so bad. Maybe she was calming down now?
Their walk was a quiet one and Flickerfrost figured it wasn't all that bad. She had probably scared Featherpaw within an inch of her life when she whirled around on her like that, and she did feel bad, but an apology wouldn't just make up for it. She'd have to try harder to control herself around the apprentice, but then again, perhaps if she wasn't hard on her, Featherpaw would never learn. She wasn't sure. She wondered, vaguely, if her mentor had to deal with anything that Flickerfrost was now. Probably not, she'd been too eager to learn when she was an apprentice. At least Featherpaw was staying relatively close to her side, rather than fleeing the territory just to get away from her.
They came upon the river before long and Flickerfrost settling herself back down on her rump. Training exercise part two, search and retrieve. "Alright, Featherpaw. We're here. You know what herbs you're looking for, and you know what they do. Now it's time to match the plant to its name. I'll be here, give you a chance to look around. Take as long as you need," she said, hoping her words were encouraging enough for Featherpaw to get the job done. Probably not. She'd need to work on that.
The sun was still high in the sky, so they had plenty of time for her apprentice to think and look for herself without needing to rush. "If you need help, I'll help you, but this is an opportunity to show me what you've been learning." If anything, Flickerfrost was confident in her teaching, and she had no problem with repetition until Featherpaw got it right.