Warriors doesn't belong to me but to Erin Hunter.
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Firepaw took a deep breath and shook his fur when the rain-drops on the leaves above the apprentice den hit it. It had rained all through the night, leaving a scent of purity behind. Water still dripped down from the leaves and Firepaw purred. He liked this sound. Shaking his fur once more he padded up to the elders den and looked inside.
Whisperear, Greeneye and Scarpath were still asleep, Kestrelstrike was dozing and Stormwing was grooming his fur.
He saw him first and silently asked: "Firepaw, what can I do for you?"
Smiling slyly the apprentice answered: "I was on night-patrol with Sapphirefur and my father. She gave me free till sun-high, but I'm not tired anymore. Shall I go hunting or bring you some moss or herbs?"
Kestrelstrike raised an eyebrow at him and asked: "Firepaw you have free-time and you ask to get us something?"
"Well, I'm bored, the others are either still sleeping because they were out as well, or already gone", answered Firepaw the she-cat.
"When you are so bored", yawned Whisperear friendly. "Then get some mouse bile for my ticks."
Firepaw nodded and left to find Splashwhisker or Spottedpaw. Purring he remembered how despicable mouse bile was and how he'd learned to hate it while taking care of Yellowfang. But now he understood that the elders truly deserved to be taken care off like this. He'd watched how warriors he knew had become elders and purred at how well treated they'd been. Smiling he slid into Splashwhisker's den, to find him and Spottedpaw over a few herbs. The she-cat looked like she fell almost asleep over her mentor's explaining on how to use Horsetail for wounds.
The healer looked up and smiled.
"Hello Firepaw, what can I do for you?"
"I need some mouse bile for Whisperear's ticks."
"Did you do something for Nightstar to punish you?"
Purring amused Firepaw answered: "I offered the elders my help since I have nothing better to do till sun-high."
The healer eyed him for a while, then smiled and said: "You are truly an amazing tom young apprentice."
Smiling Firepaw waited for Splashwhisker to get the mouse-bile. Spottedpaw shook her head, smiling, and went to sort berries. Splashwhisker came back, the moss with the mouse bile between his jaws. "Be careful to not to get it into your mouth." Firepaw nodded and made his way back to the elders den. Nightstar looked up from the place he lay and was sharing tongues with Lionclaw. She murmured something to him, he shook his head and smiled proudly.
Firepaw straightened up.
He hadn't intended on impressing his father with his doings, but was still proud he managed it. Nightstar was much harder with his own kits. The ginger tom understood that perfectly. Suddenly a familiar voice sneered: "Been bad kitty?"
He glanced sideward and looked at Nettlepaw.
Looking back to the elders den, he ignored the other apprentice and walked on. Nettlepaw growled at that and blocked his path. Firepaw simply went around the other and continued his way. Nettlepaw hissed behind him, but Firepaw continued to ignore the other and stepped into the elders den. By now everyone was awake and looked at him proudly while he walked up to Whisperear and asked through the moss: "Whewe awe youw tickf?"
She answered: "I know about one on my shoulder and one near my tail. But please search for others too."
Nodding Firepaw started his work and carefully pressed the moos onto the tick he'd spotted on her shoulder. Warmth filled him when he realised that the grumpy she-cat had said please. That was unusual for her. Normally she just demanded things. After a while he was done with Whisperear and asked: "Anyone else?"
"Me", called Stormwing.
Firepaw walked up to him and searched through the elders pelt. He found only two ticks, however those sat deep. He needed to press a bit more of the mouse bile onto them and advised: "They sat deep Stormwing, you probably should get someone to get your some wet moss to wash your flank." The tabby tom nodded and again Firepaw asked: "Any of you three?"
The three shook their heads and Scarpath asked: "Can you get us some fresh-kill, only if you don't have anything else to do."
Firepaw laughed and answered: "Not until sun-high. I gladly do that."
Fast he left and carried the moss with the mouse-bile back to the healers den. Both, Splashwhisker and Spottedpaw were gone so he just placed it somewhere where the two would see it, but not step onto it. Then he left the den and padded up to the thorn-barrier. He'd almost left, when a voice called him back.
He turned around, then padded up to his father and asked: "Yes Nightstar?"
"Where are you going?"
"I put mouse-bile on the elders ticks and was on my way to wash it off, then I would've hunted for them."
Nightstar asked: "Aren't you tired?"
Shaking his head Firepaw answered: "No, for some reason I'm top fit and awake."
Eyeing him for a while the leader finally nodded and said: "But be careful near the WindClan border. We scented a badger around there."
Nodding Firepaw turned away again and raced up to the thorn-barrier once more.
Groaning he thought; What now? Turing back once again, he saw Hollypaw and Silverpaw running up to him.
"Where are you going?", asked Silverpaw.
"Washing my paws clean from mouse-bile and then hunting for the elders till sun-high."
"We come with you", offered Hollypaw immediately.
"We don't have anything to do until sun-high either", agreed Silverpaw.
The ginger tom smiled and said: "Then let's go."
Together the three cats dashed out of the camp and ran into the forest. Firepaw chose, despite Nightstar's warning, the way to WindClans border, since the closest stream was there. The moment they reached it, he jumped into it.
"Hey, watch it!", exclaimed Hollypaw while the water splashed onto her fur.
He gave her an apologetic smile, then stepped out of the stream and said: "Well, let's go hunting!"
-a few days later-
Stifling a yawn Firepaw padded over the clearing to the apprentice den. The moment he reached it, Sandpaw burst out of it and licked his ears.
"I was worried about you", whispered the pale-ginger she-cat.
Purring amused Firepaw answered: "Sandpaw I may have slept in the territory somewhere, however I was with Sapphirefur the whole time."
A slight growl rose up in the she-cat's throat and Firepaw's eyes widened. Then he laughed and asked: "You…you are jealous because of Sapphirefur? Sandpaw she is my mentor not my mate. That's you!"
Sandpaw didn't look convinced and she asked silently: "But whenever we have time for each other, you are just talking about her."
"Because she is a great Mentor, just like Bluestar."
Firepaw smiled at her and explained: "Remember, when we were apprentices in the old forest? Whenever I came back from training or hunting with Bluestar I practically talked Greypaw and Ravenpaw deaf with how great she was. Sapphirefur is just like her. The training with her just pulls me back into the past, where we really were apprentices Sandpaw. That's it."
She still had doubt in her eyes and purring he whispered: "Common, follow me. I want to show you something I found. We should enjoy it as long as the two of us and Sapphirefur are the only ones who know."
With that he dashed off. Sandpaw followed him and soon got ahead.
"Hey slow down!" called Firepaw.
"Hah, no chance."
"But you don't know where to go!"
Sighing loudly Sandpaw slowed down and fell into step with him. Together they dashed through the territory. "Firepaw are we there soon", asked Sandpaw after a while. "The sun almost down." He just nodded, concentrating on what he tried to find again. Finally he saw the familiar tree and skidded to a halt. Sandpaw stopped as well and he padded up to the big oak.
He pushed a few leaves away and slid into a hole under the tree.
"Have you gone crazy", asked Sandpaw shocked.
"Don't worry", called Firepaw back. "This one isn't part of the tunnel-system. Come on!"
While he crept forward he heard how Sandpaw followed him. After a while he saw light and crept towards it. The moment he stepped out of the tunnel, he smiled. Stepping side he allowed Sandpaw to come out as well and she gasped surprised. In front of them lay a small clearing. The grass was green, colourful flowers grew and a stream splashed silently through it.
"Fi-Firepaw this place is beautiful, how did you find it?"
He purred sheepish and answered: "I wanted to burry a mouse under the tree and found the tunnel. From the three nights Sapphirefur and I were in the forest, we spent two here, exploring everything. The clearing is just outside our territory and well hidden between high-bushes and trees. Any cat, not to talk about twolegs, wouldn't want to go through there. Now common."
He padded up to the stream and sat down in front of it. Sandpaw sat down next to him and both enjoyed the cool air of the late evening. After a while Firepaw stood up, shook his fur and said: "We should go or everyone will get worried."
He heard a hurt sigh from Sandpaw, but she nodded and together they made their way back. Before they reached the camp, they caught a mouse each and then padded into the camp. The sun had already set. The moment he set one paw into the camp, Nightstar stood over him and asked angrily: "Where have you two been."
"H-Hunting", answered Firepaw through the mouse in his jaws. Nightstar narrowed his eyes, when Sapphirefur came. She threw a glance at Firepaw and then at Sandpaw. Smirking at her apprentice she turned fully towards them and said: "Firepaw, Sandpaw, great. Thank you that you went hunting for the elders like I asked you to." The ginger apprentice was stunned, then reacted and said: "Your welcome Sapphirefur."
"You sent them out this late?", asked Nightstar. Sapphirefur nodded and answered: "I did. Whisperear wailed like a kit that she was still hungry and though there was still a bit fresh-kill left, Fierceclaw and almost all of the apprentice hadn't eaten yet, so I sent those two out to catch some mice for Whisperear. Bring it to her."
The last sentence was directed at Firepaw and Sandpaw and the two of them dashed off immediately. They silently snuck into the elders den and Whisperear raised her head.
"Ah, Firepaw, Sandpaw", rasped the old she-cat out.
Since the incident with the death-berries, her voice hadn't been the same and she had trouble walking farther than to the dirt place.
"You brought prey, that is very nice."
Firepaw placed the mice down in front of her and when the two young cats left, Whisperear, Stormwing and Scarpath called their thanks after them.
"What was that?", asked Sandpaw silently.
Smiling slightly Firepaw answered: "I guess Sapphirefur scented where we were and tried to help us."
"Uh…oh, she told me a story last night about her time as apprentice. She'd been deeply in love with Hawkpath while the two were apprentices, however never had the courage to tell him. Because of that he fell for Darkpetal and she still is sad about this loss. She surely figured us out…well, we aren't really secretive anymore. It's a wonder Nightstar didn't catch up yet."
Sandpaw purred now and whispered: "I truly had a complete wrong impression of her."
"Just ever be jealous again", whispered Firepaw into her ear when they stopped in front of the apprentice den. "There will never, never ever be any she-cat for me except for you."
He licked over her ears, then walked into the den, carefully to make sure he woke no one up. The ginger tom curled up in his nest and purred when Sandpaw curled up right next to him, their furs brushing.
Yawning Firepaw opened his eyes and sat up. He looked around in the den and couldn't help but purr amused. Greypaw and Silverpaw slept next to each other, their tails enwind. He saw the same with Ravenpaw and Hollypaw. A new purr worked the way up his throat. Those two had never had the chance to get close in their old lives, now they had a chance.
"It's wonderful to see Greystripe and Silverstream like this, not?"
Firepaw looked up to see Bluepaw next to him. He smiled and said: "I remember good how we attacked each other while he secretly met her. It's good she's here with us now."
Bluepaw nodded, then sighed. Sympathy in his voice the ginger tom asked: "Are you thinking about Oakheart again?"
Bluepaw nodded and said: "I really miss him…I miss all of them Oakheart, Stonefur, Snowfur, Mosskit, Mistystar, all of them."
Firepaw licked her ear and said: "Cheer up Bluestar. They are alright and I'm sure they are watching us right now. They wouldn't want you to be this down."
She smiled and nodded, then laughed: "It's not to believe that I'm actually older than you."
Purring Firepaw stood up and said: "How about we go hunting? That gets both of our thoughts off of that topic."
She nodded and together the two left the den. Out there they padded up to the Thornbarrier, however were stopped when Nightstar called: "Firepaw! Bluepaw! Come here please." The two of them shared a glance, but walked to the leader, who asked: "Where were you two going?" "We wanted to go hunting", answered Bluepaw. Firepaw nodded and Nightstar said: "Alright, but be back before sun-high and watch out when you go to the WindClan border. The morning-patrol scented a badger there once again, though it should be gone already."
Both nodded, then dashed off and Firepaw asked: "WindClan?"
"WindClan", agreed Bluepaw smirking and they dashed towards the WindClan border. On their way both cats talked about the good old times. They laughed and had their fun. After a while they reached the border and were about to split up when an overwhelming stench reached Firepaw. His eyes widened and he hissed: "Badger!"
Both spun around unison and tried to run off, when the bushes rustled. Firepaw froze in fear, then he gulped and turned back around. A badger stood there, observing them out of small eyes. The badger seemed strangely familiar to Firepaw and he eyed it confused. It was seemingly a female badger with berry-bright eyes, a white stripe running down her face and a bulky body. The ginger tom's eyes widened and he thought; That can't be!
The badger came closer and Bluepaw unsheathed her claws. The badger growled and Firepaw fast stepped in front of the bluish-grey she-cat.
"Firepaw?", asked Bluepaw.
He ignored her, then narrowed his eyes. Could it really be her? "Mid-Midnight is that you?", asked Firepaw.
The badger stopped moving, then said: "I am Dawn and came with you to speak. How can young fighter-cat know great-great-great grandmother Midnight?"
"You are Midnight's decedent?", asked Bluepaw and stepped next to Firepaw.
"Young queen-warrior is right. Mother and grand-mother taught much. Told stories about fighting-cats around lake. Told great-great-great grandmother has often helped, now my turn here."
Firepaw nodded thoughtfully. It was true. Midnight had helped them often and it gave him a good feeling that there was once again someone out of the clan they could rely on. Someone they could maybe even tell the truth. Dawn's voice snapped him out of his thoughts.
"StarClan have sent Dawn message."
"Ten from starry sky have to come to find goal of six travellers. Dawn will help."
Firepaw narrowed his eyes confused, then Bluepaw asked: "Could that mean the sun-drown place?" When Firepaw looked at her confused she explained: "Well, Bramblestar and the other five met midnight there. Maybe Dawn can help us with our….'situation' when all of us ten come there."
Nodding Firepaw said: "That could be it. Dawn, how long did it take you to get here?"
"I travel for almost two days."
Firepaw nodded and asked Bluepaw: "How about we go a day after half-moon?"
"Why that time?"
"Well, if StarClan really wants something, maybe Spottedpaw gets a message at Moonpool. And she can rest a day before we go. I guess it could take us a little less time than Dawn to get to the sun-drown place."
Bluepaw nodded as well, then turned to Dawn and said: "Dawn, please expect us in a few nights after Half-Moon."
Dawn nodded and called: "StarClan light your path."
"Yours too", answered both apprentices unison. With that Dawn left and Firepaw turned to Bluepaw.
"Let's get back to camp and tell Nightstar we scented a badger at WindClan."
Bluepaw nodded and both dashed off. On their way back to camp they almost ran into Hailpaw and Mountainfang, but except for that their run was uneventful. Soon they reached the camp and raced up to the Highledge. Nightstar sat under it, together with Rivertail and Reedheart. Sandpaw and Nettlepaw sat nearby, however stayed as far away from each other as possible. Gasping Firepaw ran up to his father and called: "Nightstar!" The leader looked up and he gasped: "I…was running after a vole. It ran towards WindClan border. There was a fresh badger scent. I...guess it left the territory already but…it was surprisingly strong." Bluepaw next to him nodded and Nightstar's eyes narrowed.
"Is this no trick? Nettlepaw tried to once."
"I ran directly into the scent", argued Bluepaw. "It surely is still in my fur."
Nightstar bent down and sniffed at her fur, then his eyes widened and he growled: "Reedheart get three strong warriors. They say the truth. If that badger is still in our territory, scare it off."
Firepaw gulped at that. Oh StarClan, thought the tom. Please let Dawn be out of our territory already. Reedheart nodded and left. Then Nightstar turned to Rivertail and said: "Rivertail take out Nettlepaw, Frostpaw, Sandpaw, Bluepaw and Firepaw out for a training session and send the other mentors here." The deputy nodded and left to organise everything. Nightstar left as well and Nettlepaw sneered: "Now I finally get the chance to beat you up kitty." Firepaw narrowed his eyes at the other, however did nothing more. Soon Rivertail came back, Frostpaw following him.
"Well you five, let's get going."
The deputy led them to the mossy hollow and asked: "So, Firepaw, Bluepaw, Sandpaw. You've been apprentices for about a moon now. How often did your mentors train fighting with you?"
"Once", answered Sandpaw and Bluepaw unison.
"Uh…too often to count", answered Firepaw.
"What?", asked everyone.
"Well, Sapphirefur said I had natural fighting abilities so she wanted to help me develop my talent fast."
"I see", said Rivertail. "Sapphirefur has her own way of teaching. The one time she had to take over Hopewing for a quarter moon, she, against to Hopewing's mentor's plans, trained hunting with her because she was better in that. As result her fighting abilities improved since she combined attacks with different stalking-styles."
Smiling the deputy ordered Bluepaw, Sandpaw, Frostpaw and Nettlepaw to the border of the hollow and crouched down a bit. "Show me what you can."
Firepaw stood still for a while, then he smirked and sped forward like he wanted to ram into him. Rivertail took a strong stand, and that was what Firepaw had hoped for. He swung to the side and jumped onto Rivertail's flank. He yowled surprised while Firepaw tried to get him to fall. True he was bigger than Sapphirefur, but ever cat could fall. However Rivertail shook him off. "Clever", called the grey tom. "Let me see how you handle this!" He ran forward and tried to hit Firepaw with his paw. The apprentice ducked and fast caught Rivertail's tail with his fangs. Rivertail gasped surprised, but managed to get him to let go. Firepaw took stand once more. Then his eyes widened and he stepped back. Rivertail looked behind him and Firepaw smirked. It really worked, cheered the ginger tom in his mind. Sapphirefur's trick worked. He dashed forward once more and landed on the surprised deputy's back. He was thrown off once more and Rivertail called: "Stop!"
Firepaw sat up and cheered: "I fooled you!" He felt utterly stupid with cheering like that, however had to keep up the act.
"You most certainly did", agreed Rivertail. "But the next time, maybe try to react a bit faster. You won't always have time to think of a clever trick."
Firepaw nodded, then he padded up to Sandpaw while Bluepaw walked up to the deputy. The she-cat licked his shoulder-fur. "That was a good fight", purred the she-cat. "But you could've done better."
"Well I look like an apprentice, I can't fight like the leader I was, at least not yet", answered Firepaw and licked her head. He was well aware that Frostpaw and Nettlepaw were watching them, however ignored it. After a while Bluepaw came back and Sandpaw went to fight, followed by Frostpaw and Nettlepaw. In the end Rivertail asked: "Any of you want to fight against another?"
"I want to fight against Firepaw", called Nettlepaw immediately.
Firepaw growled slightly, however walked out onto the battle field and crouched down. Nettlepaw did the same and then Rivertail flicked his tail. Immediately Nettlepaw dashed forward and lunged at Firepaw. The ginger apprentice raced to the side and disappeared in the bushes. Silently he snuck through the shadows. The New-Leaf sun could easily allow his fur to glow like a true fire. Nettlepaw growled and looked around. Firepaw crawled behind him and finally the wind blew towards him, giving Nettlepaw no chance to scent him. "Come out here you!", yelled Nettlepaw. A smirk on his face Firepaw tensed and waited till Nettlepaw turned away from him, then dashed out and jumped on the others back. Nettlepaw screamed in surprise when Firepaw forced him to the ground. The other rolled over and Firepaw was flattened under him. With all his strength he pushed Nettlepaw away and got up again. Firepaw looked around and saw how Nettlepaw jumped at him. With a secret smile he fell back and Nettlepaw landed between his paws. With sheathed claws started to attack the other and Rivertail called: "Enough!"
Firepaw jumped back and the deputy praised: "Your last attack was fast thinking Firepaw. Did Sapphirefur teach you that?"
Nervously Firepaw glanced around. He couldn't really tell him he knew that trick from Bluestar.
"Well, I tried it once with Sapphirefur…didn't go so well, but she said it was a good idea so I tried it alone again and again."
That was the whole truth.
"I see. Very well you all did great today. So go back to camp and get yourselves something to eat. You deserve it."
Everyone nodded eagerly and the apprentices raced back to camp.