Back to Life

Loyalty

Warriors doesn't belong to me.

R&R please.

Firepaw eagerly padded through the forest. True, because of his injured flank, he wasn't allowed to resume training yet, however that was the reason that made gathering moss for the queens so exiting. It had been a quarter moon since the border patrol had attacked and Firepaw was allowed out of camp alone for the first time since then.

He smirked a bit when he remembered Nightstar's face when Splashwhisker had told him he'd sent the apprentice to gather moss. Nightstar hadn't been pretty happy about it, yet Firepaw understood why. Even when she was a warrior already, after Squirrelflight had gotten injured in battles, he'd often had to fight with himself to not ground her in camp out of fatherly love.

Shaking the thoughts off, Firepaw padded up to an old Oak and scanned the moss on the roots. It looked pretty good so he started gathering it. He was very concentrated on his work, so he winced when a voice sneered: "Been a bad kitty, kittypet?"

Firepaw spun around, to come face to face with a beaming Dustpaw, who had a vole at his paws.

"You should see your face", laughed the tabby. Firepaw scowled at him, then remembered his injured flank and turned back to the moss. "What's wrong?", asked Dustpaw concerned and padded up to the ginger tom. The lack of aggressive response confused him and had him worry for his former leader.

Firepaw sighed, then smirked and stated: "I don't want Nightstar to ground me in camp for breaking up my injuries in camp. I rather gather moss for the half-moon than stay in camp and do nothing one more day." Understanding lit up Dustpaw's features and he smiled, then suddenly frowned. "What's wrong?", repeated Firepaw the tabby's question.

"It's just…both of our first apprentice days could've been far brighter if Sandpaw and I had tried to get to know you in the first place instead of pushing you away." Firepaw purred in amusement and placed his tail on Dustpaw's flank.

"The past is the past Dustpaw", soothed the former leader and picked up the moss. Through the green balls he continued: "It'ff over and though I waffned alwayf happy with what you and fandpaw did, you were one of my beft and moft trufted warriorf." Dustpaw smiled at that, then picked up his vole and together the two toms returned to camp. Firepaw padded up to the nursery immediately and placed the moss down next to the entrance. Then he coughed on time and called: "It's Firepaw. I got fresh moss."

"Come in", purred a voice.

Firepaw slowly walked in, careful to not accidently step on hiding kits' tails.

"Who's nest needs to be completely changed", asked the apprentice while looking at the three queens.

"Mine", called Fierceclaw and stood up, shaking her fur while doing so. "Leafkit, Stripekit and Cloudkit are taking it apart day by day. I can't believe that's going to continue for three more moons", groaned the spotted queen.

Mudheart and Morningcloud laughed at her words, then the mother of Sandpaw and Dustpaw turned to Firepaw and said: "I just need a bit more moss."

"I only need a bit replaced", called Morningcloud.

Firepaw nodded and padded up to Fierceclaw. Scratching the moss together, he brought it out of the den and got the new one in. Then he did the same with a part of Morningcloud's nest. Suddenly he heard squeals from outside and ground while he sunk his head. That surely were kits that found it funny to play with the moss he'd brought. It was always the same. An apprentice got moss, the kits destroyed it and the apprentice had to get more.

"Go quick", urged Mudheart purring. "Before they leave nothing."

Firepaw nodded and dashed out, to growl angrily at a grey spotted tom with orange eyes, Fierceclaw's son Cloudkit, a golden she-cat with pale-blue eyes and a black, red and golden spotted she-cat, Petalkit and Rosekit, two of Morningcloud's kits.

"I just gathered that", exclaimed Firepaw and rushed forward.

Picking up the fresh moss, he ignored the pouting kits, when they suddenly pounced on him. Firepaw fell and yowled in pain when he landed on his flank. Immediately the kits were off of him and he got shoved up gently. Blinking he found Lionclaw over him, licking his flank gently while Fierceclaw lectured the three kits to never pounce on an injured apprentice.

Firepaw frowned when he found Nightstar's eyes burning angrily when Cloudkit cheekily pointed out how they were supposed to recognize an injured apprentice, when Bluepaw marched by with prey for the elders and hissed, that Firepaw very well still had cobwebs covering parts of his flank.

That was true and swiftly the ginger apprentice checked himself over, to breathe out in relief when everything was still in place. This hadn't happened the first time thought. The same had happened to Whitepaw, two days ago. He was back to his training now, though Lynxfur had to go slow on him. The white apprentice had been less injured than Firepaw, yet enough to have to stay a few days in the medicine-cats den.

Finally, after a pleading meow from Firepaw, Lionclaw backed off from him, but gave him a glare that said: "I will be there immediately when something happens."

Firepaw shook his head, then padded up to the moss and past Fierceclaw, who was still lecturing Cloudkit. Petalkit and Rosekit had gotten sent to their mother and Firepaw heard Morningcloud's angry voice from inside. He sighed. Some cats treated him like a kit ever since Sapphirefur died. He wasn't fully over her death and he was sure he would never be, but he wished to be treated like a normal apprentice. In the den, Morningcloud just finished lecturing her kits and allowed them to play in the small playground in the back. Firepaw purred at the memory of how he and the other nine had played, trained in their case, and discussed there.

Rosekit and Lilykit raced past him swiftly, but Petalkit stopped shortly and scanned him. The ginger apprentice looked back in a friendly way and Petalkit muttered: "Uhm…I-I just…just wanted to say…well…sorry."

Firepaw purred loudly and licked the she-kit's ears. "It's okay. I know how boring the camp can get." Petalkit smiled brightly at the fact that he wasn't angry at her, then raced on. Picking up the moss, he used it to soften Mudheart's nest. The dark-brown she-cat nodded to him in thanks and Firepaw retreated from the nursery.

He padded up to Splashwhisker's den, since the healer demanded him to sleep there until he was healed enough to resume his training.

"Oh dear", exclaimed Splashwhisker. "With all the stress lately, I forgot that we're running low on catmint, and we need honey."

"Calm down Splashwhisker, we can get some", soothed Spottedpaw.

"Scarpath and Whisperear are ill", argued the healer. "I can't leave now."

"Then let me go", argued Spottedpaw back.

"Not alone. The catmint, alright, but not the honey."

"I can help", offered Firepaw, getting both medicine-cats to wince when he interrupted their argument.

"You're still injured, and I heard you scream before", argued Spottedpaw worriedly.

"Cloudkit, Petalkit and Rosekit pounced on me and I fell on my flank", soothed Firepaw. "It's nothing more."

Splashwhisker hesitated shortly, then demanded: "Take one more apprentice with you. I personally would appreciate if it would be Bluepaw, Sandpaw or Ravenpaw."

Firepaw nodded and together with Spottedpaw, he left the medicine-cat's den. He scanned the camp and found Ravenpaw appearing from the apprentice den. "Let's take Ravenpaw with us", suggested the ginger tom.

Sandpaw was out for battle-training, that knew Firepaw, and Bluepaw was back in camp, but he didn't feel like getting treated like a kit again and Bluepaw didn't seem to manage to cut down on her almost motherly worry. Firepaw almost purred amused at this, but shook it off when he heard a meow of agreement from Spottedpaw. The two padded up to the black tom, who sat up from his sun-bath when he saw them coming.

"Hey, up to join us in gathering catmint and honey."

"Honey", purred Ravenpaw amused. "A little challenge, I'm in."

The three left.

Bluepaw sat in camp, cleaning her fur after changing the moss-bedding of the elders. The light of the sunset hit her fur, warming her. She purred, then scanned the camp. That's what she'd been doing ever since she'd left the elders den.

Firepaw was nowhere to be seen.

With this injury he'd gained, her motherly-instinct had awoken and taken control of a big part of her mind. If it wasn't for the fact that she'd been a warrior and a leader once, she would've screwed up in everything she'd gotten to do the past few days, since a big part of her always worried for her former apprentice. She knew Firepaw was tough, great StarClan he'd beaten Scourge and Tigerstar, not to mention what else he'd done in his first lives, but she couldn't help it. She was worried, yet Firepaw's tries to avoid her and her protectiveness amused the bluish-grey she-cat.

Suddenly the thorn-barrier waved and Firepaw padded in, followed by Spottedpaw and Ravenpaw. The two toms carried moss, soaked with a golden liquid Bluepaw suggested to be honey, and Spottedpaw catmint leaves.

She purred amused.

Even now Firepaw tried his best to prove his loyalty to ThunderClan. However, she understood why. In his old lives, he often needed to do that and right now Bluepaw wondered how she could've ever doubted him.

Flashback

Bluestar sighed deeply while she lay in her den, watching how the golden light of the sunset got replaced with the cold light of the night. Her mind went back to the day's events. Tigerclaw had reported to her that the three apprentices Firepaw, Greypaw and Ravenpaw did great in their assignment. Bluestar had felt pride for the ginger kittypet she'd chosen as her apprentice at that, but then Tigerclaw had mentioned Firepaw's conversation with that kittypet and thought Firepaw had vowed to StarClan that he was loyal to ThunderClan, Bluestar had her doubts.

Curling up into a tight ball, she tried to sleep, but couldn't. After a long while, she stood up and left her den, sitting down in the middle of the clearing, she locked her eyes on the almost full moon.

"Something on your mind?", rasped a sudden noise.

Bluestar's head snapped to the noise and she found Yellowfang closing towards her. Bluish-grey fur stood straight and the leader flexed her claws and asked: "What are you doing?" Yellowfang gazed at her, then dragged herself farther to the ThunderClan leader, not once using her injured leg. It must be bad, thought Bluestar and against her will she felt very worried for the former ShadowClan cat.

"What's on your mind Bluestar?", asked Yellowfang after she'd settled down almost next to the ThunderClan leader. Bluestar's ears perked up. Did Yellowfang just sound worried? Her silence seemed to have been enough answer, since Yellowfang stated: "Tigerclaw doesn't like Firepaw."

"What?", asked Bluestar confused.

Yellowfang answered her gaze, pride shining in her orange eyes.

"Firepaw is a fine young tom, despite his roots. Yet Tigerclaw doesn't seem to understand this. Don't you think it was strange that Tigerclaw saw him exactly when he talked with the kittypet? Or that he even sent Firepaw near the twolegplace, at the risk of getting him caught or dragged back there?"

Bluestar's eyes widened at the point Yellowfang tried to make.

"You think he tried to…"

"…break your trust in him", ended Yellowfang with a nod and continued: "And thus breaking Firepaw's trust in himself. He looks up to you Bluestar. He would trust everything to you." The old she-cat rose to her three legs and dragged herself past Bluestar to her nest. "Don't cause him to believe his trust is misplaced because he talked to an old friend Bluestar. I have the feeling you will lose a great warrior with him."

Blue eyes stared after Yellowfang until the old she-cat had collapsed onto her nest and closed her eyes. Then they wandered back to the moon.

Making a decision, she stood up and silently padded up to the apprentice-den. She snuck in and padded to the bright ginger coat that marked her apprentice. A slight smile crawled over the leader's muzzle while she watched how he slept peacefully next to Ravenpaw, who had Greypaw on his other side, as if the two tried to protect their jumpy friend.

Suddenly her eyes widened.

The ginger apprentice wasn't sleeping peacefully at all. His tail twitched constantly and his claws sheathed and unsheathed again and again. Soft whimpers seemed to tear themselves from his throat and she believed to hear him saying something. She bent down and strained her ears to catch his words.

"…No…no let go…stop! I don't want back…let me be…I'm happy here."

The leader frowned. Did he lie to her and wish to be a kittypet again? "

No! Not the cutter…let me go back to the forest…I want back…Greypaw, Bluestar help…"

Her eyes widened and the frown disappeared, to be replaced with relief and shock. Relief that he was loyal to ThunderClan and shock that her distrust in him today affected him that much. She carefully placed her forepaw on her apprentice's shoulder and shook him. Firepaw jerked up and gazed around wildly. Bluestar pressed herself against him and purred comforting before he could wake up the other apprentices. "

B-B-Bluestar?", whispered the ginger tom confused.

"I'm here", shushed the leader her apprentice. "Don't worry. You won't have to ever leave us Firepaw." He stared at her and Bluestar saw an argument forming. "Come, let's take a walk." She padded forward and Firepaw followed her. She led him out of the camp and to the sandy hollow. There she sat down and gestured Firepaw to sit down next to her.

He slowly, carefully moved closer, fearful even. Bluestar's heart cracked at this and just now she realised how much she cared for Firepaw. She had scared him deeply today. Finally he sat next to her and Bluestar wrapped her tail around his small form while she licked his ears and head.

"B-Bluestar?"

"I heard what you said in your dream", explained the leader. Firepaw froze at this, but she continued: "I never meant to put you through this Firepaw. Sometimes my worries get the better of me. I shouldn't have distrusted you because you spoke to an old friend."

"But I…"

"You are a valuable member of ThunderClan and once you're a warrior, you'll be a warrior ThunderClan can be proud of", continued the leader, giving the tom no chance to speak.

"But…"

"You never have to go back there Firepaw. ThunderClan is always there for you."

He was silent and Bluestar looked at him. Firepaw looked back, many emotions swirling in his green eyes. Then he suddenly smiled and whispered: "Thank you, Bluestar." She nuzzled him and then the apprentice yawned. Chuckling she led him back into camp, keeping her tail around him all the way to the apprentice den.

"Have a deep and wonderful sleep Firepaw", said Bluestar and pressed her nose to his forehead. With that she turned around and heard a silent: "You too." She smiled, then saw a flash of orange. She looked there and found Yellowfang looking at her, amusement glinting in the she-cat's eyes. Bluestar smiled.

She could really start to like the old medicine-cat.

If it wouldn't be for her temper.

End of Flashback

Bluepaw smiled at the memory, then shook it off and looked around. Firepaw crouched nearby, eating a plump Squirrel. Sandpaw was next to him, cleaning his neck and shoulders.

She purred.

Firepaw was in good paws. Sandpaw wouldn't let anything happen to the tom she loved. Standing up and stretching, she retreated into the apprentice-den and curled up next to Whitepaw. Soon sleep overtook her.

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