GATHERING MISHAPS


It's the gathering this night. I'm very excited but nervous too.

I pad alongside my littermates, all eager for our first gathering - an apprentice milestone. I walk beside Graynose and can't help remembering Wolfkit's praise, "I can't wait to be an apprentice! Just half a moon!", and especially Brindlekit's jealousy, "I'll be an apprentice before you know it!", yet she and Mottlekit were the youngest kits in the nursery. As quirky as it sounded, jealousy from others keep me going. 'Cause all you need to know to be confident in yourself sometimes is that others admire you.

I sit with Honeypool, my tail curled. The light brown she cat looks at me, amusement shing in her eyes. "I was just about to go talk with my friends in MoonClan. I could introduce you to a few apprentices?"

It is always good to make new friends....or enemies in this case. "Er-sure."

Honeypool laughed. "Nobody's gonna claw your cool fur off, Foxpaw! That is strictly forbidden at Gatherings, though I suppose Yellowstar's never really admired that rule." Honeypool sniffed at her leader and I purr at my fur being called cool, as it always was. Dark russet was a cool color.

I follow my warrior friend to a group of MoonClan apprentices who look about my age. They actually don't even narrow their eyes and hiss at me. Their eyes widen with curiosity instead; most of them stare at my pelt with....recognition? Quit the staring!

"Hi," One of the apprentices started. "I'm Fallowpaw, and these are my brothers Windpaw and Ricepaw."

"I'm Foxpaw." I smile.

"And I'm Sweetpaw," I hear my sister padding up to us. "I'm the new medicine cat apprentice."

"Oh, that's cool!" Ricepaw meows. "I'm MoonClan's new medicine cat apprentice too!"

"Isn't it so cool?," Sweetpaw bursts. "I've only learned about burnet and dock so far!"

"Tansypelt's only taught me about coltsfoot, marigold, and birch leaves."

"Why you'd want to be a medicine cat, I don't know." Windpaw sniffed.

"Why is that?," I ask.

"Because you don't get a mate." Fallowpaw replies as if that was very evident. "And that would be horrible for Windpaw."

"Huh?!" Windpaw looks bewildered.

"Oh come on," Ricepaw giggles. "we've seen how you look at Thistlepaw."

"Just because one look at a she-cat," Windpaw sniffs. "does not mean I like them."

"Oh, we know Windpaw." Fallowpaw winks at Sweetpaw and I, and I can't help but laugh.

Windpaw glares and Sweetpaw, Fallowpaw, and Ricepaw burst out laughing. Then Ricepaw stiffens. "Gathering's starting!" We all go to our respective places.

"MoonClan will start!" A black tom yowls. I recognize him immediately - I've heard of him numerous times: Ravenstar, leader of MoonClan. The cat Yellowstar despises more than anything.

Yellowstar hisses. "MoonClan does not get to start! Good always comes before evil!" She lashes her golden tail.

Ravenstar sighs and, surprisingly allows Yellowstar to speak. This is stunning! I always thought MoonClan were the type to put up a vicious fight....now I see that cat is my own leader, and my own leader only.

"SunClan is thriving amazingly," Yellowstar huffs. "We are feeding well and we have new warriors: Lilyripple and Honeypool."

"Lilyripple! Honeypool!"

"New apprentices, too.," Yellowstar continues, a smug expression on her face. "Greenpaw, Foxpaw, Gorsepaw, and Sweetpaw - who is a medicine cat apprentice."

"Greenpaw, Foxpaw, Gorsepaw, Sweetpaw!"

I can't help but beam shyly yet proudly.

I also notice the other medicine cats congratulating Sweetpaw. Yellowstar is not done. "We would actually be feeding better, if our prey wasn't stolen." Her gaze lingered on Ravenstar.

"That sounds terribly unpleasant for your Clan, Yellowstar. We have had rogues taking our prey too." He sounds very calm.

"I mean MoonClan!," Yellowstar unsheathes her claws, looking satisfied as the crowd gasps in terror. "Your filthy Clan has been taking prey from MY territory!"

"Why so? MoonClan AREN'T thieves!" Ravenstar seems to be losing his temper. I would too if someone dared talk to me like that.

"Add liars to the list, please." Yellowstar smiles innocently.

Ravenstar lashes his tail. "MoonClan will go now: We have a new litter of kits born to Cloverbird and Stripetail. Finchkit, Blazekit, and Comfreykit.," He hesitated, then added, "We have good hunting."

"Stealing" Yellowstar muttered.

"Gathering DISMISSED!" Ravenstar booms and he looks ruffled. His icy-blue stare sweeps through all the gathering patrols. It lingers for a moment on me and I see...surprise? Recognition? Like I saw with Fallowpaw, Ricepaw, and Windpaw. The eye contact lasts for no more than a second before he leaps down the Great Boulder and leads his Clan away.

I can't help but feel wary around MoonClan now.

~~

Next Episode: Friendship

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