There was something about spring days that made my whole Clan loopy. Seriously. You would've thought it was our birthday or something- which, in a way it was, I guess, but seriously. Did the kits have to skip around yelling, "Spring in SpringClan!" for all eternity? In what world was that considered an acceptable way to celebrate spring?
My constant crankiness had no effect on my ever-bubbly best friend, Daisypaw, however. She skipped along beside me like some kind of ridiculously energetic squirrel, babbling away. "And tonight, Specklepaw invited me for a moonlight walk! Isn't that just divine? I can imagine it now. Spring is in the air- and love too! Oh, Breezepaw! I need your advice."
"Mm?" I mumbled insensitively.
"For my fur," she continued, unaware of my lack of enthusiasm. "I already decided I'm going to let it be wind-blown and side-swept, you know? Gives me a better look, I think. But what flower should I wear behind my ear? Should I keep it simple with like, a white rose or a bluebonnet? Or should I get a nice nodding pansy... Hello? Breezepaw?"
I blinked at her, seeing that her expression was drawing into a pout. "Um... go for a buttercup. It brings out the gold in your eyes."
Her hazel eyes filled with warmth, and she purred and licked me on the cheek. "I know toms aren't your forte, but thanks for listening to me prattle on."
"It's fine- I don't mind," I half-lied.
Daisypaw gave me her winning smile, the sweet, slightly-tilted smile that won her so many arguments and favors. "Now, enough about me. What do you want to talk about?"
"Nothing," I grouched. "I'm a bitter old cat full of hatred and poison, remember?"
A tinkling laugh. Narrowing my eyes at her in mock anger, I growled in a low voice, "I'm serious, young lady. You won't be laughing when I eat you for supper! Now run along before I get hungry."
Nudging me, she snickered, "Very funny, Breezepaw. With all my fur, I'd give you such a furball that you'd choke and die."
"Good point. I guess I'll have to cut all your fur off."
My friend's shriek was only half-playful- perhaps she thought I was serious? Or, more likely, she was just hilariously overprotective of her - admittedly gorgeous - sandy fur. "Don't you dare, you old hag!"
"Hag? Oh, you're getting eaten now."
Bolting after her, I laughed as Daisypaw let out a bloodcurdling scream and pitched forward, running as fast as she could.
In races, there was no question that I'd be the winner, but outrunning her would take all the fun out of the chase. So I lagged behind, yelling threats as we wove in and out of dappled spring sunlight. Overhead, trees showed off their new, feathery foliage, and new grasses cushioned our paws. All of the little things that added up to make SpringClan so beautiful.
"We should probably get back to camp," mewed Daisypaw, hastily smoothing her fur. "Oh, I can't let Specklepaw see me like this!" she cried, throwing up her paws. "Thanks a lot, Breezepaw."
Nonchalantly, I said, "You're welcome."
Then I ran for my life.
No one looked too amused when Daisypaw and I burst into the camp screaming like a pair of loons- but that was on them, for not having a sense of appreciation for the days of youth. Old coots.
So that was why I completely understood why Quailfeather felt the need to put us on bedding-changing duty for the next week. The poor gal must've been missing her own younger days. Old coot.
Daisypaw, who rarely got into trouble(unlike me), thought the world was collapsing.
"Oh, Quailfeather hates me now!" she groaned. "She'll tell Oakstar! I'll never be a warrior!"
Quite devilishly amused by my friend's chagrin, I elbowed her. "Would you relax? Nothing like that's going to happen. We change out some extra elder bedding. That's it."
Sniffing, Daisypaw glared at me. "You're such a troublemaker Breezepaw."
I winked at her, and her face melted into a smile. "All right, all right. I know I need to be a little less uptight. I'll work on that. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go beg Quailfeather's forgiveness- kidding!" Turning to walk away, she slammed into a black-and-white tom.
"Hey! Would you watch it, you cross-eyed apprentice?" the tom snapped irritably.
Instantly, I leaped to my friend's defense. "It's a mistake, Blackheart," I snapped. "Don't you know what that is? You say 'Excuse me' or 'I'm sorry'. End of story. What you don't do? You don't yell insults at your Clanmates for-"
"I-It's okay, Breezepaw." Daisypaw grabbed onto my paw and tried to budge me. Meanwhile, Blackheart curled his lip at me disgustedly, and I responded by making a hideous face at him as Daisypaw literally dragged me away.
"Are you nuts?" she hissed when we were out of earshot.
Taken aback, I rolled my eyes at her. "You're welcome. I was just defending you."
She sighed. "Don't mess with Blackheart, Breezepaw. You know how he is. Everyone's scared of him. Even the kits go inside when he walks past."
"Because he's a complete grouch," I snapped. "But he doesn't scare me. Sheesh. He's a Clan cat, after all. All he needs is to be put in his place."
For a second, Daisypaw looks like she's going to keep lecturing me. Then she smirks. "Put in his place by you? A lowly apprentice."
"Yes well." I put my nose up in the air. "I'm considered much higher than an apprentice, you know. Oakstar offered me the leadership, but I declined. I didn't think it would be fair- you know, to all the warriors that trained for moons but lacked my pure skill."
Skeptically, she glanced around, delicate eyebrows still arched. "Looking for Specklepaw?" I guessed.
Her eyes shift from side to side. "Ma-aybe."
Turning, I spot two cats coming towards us. "Um, I don't think your parents will approve of you oggling toms in their presence."
"Hello Daisypaw and Breezepaw!" Ivyrose, a pretty mink-and-white furred she-cat with a personality as lovely as her looks, greeted us. Beside her was Goldenburst, a jovial golden tom as cheerful as his daughter.
While Daisypaw scowled and went back to looking for Specklepaw, I licked each of her parents on the cheek. Sometimes I thought that my best friend - awesome as she was - didn't appreciate her parents enough. As someone who had grown up an orphan, I was able to see how truly lucky she was, having Goldenburst and Ivyrose in her life.
I had no need to be too jealous though. Both of them treated me like a part of their family, as if I was another daughter. It was really nice of them, actually, and I had come to love them like my parents- or what I imagined parents would be like.
Both my parents had died when I was just a kit, so I hadn't ever known them enough to miss them... I wasn't sure if that was a blessing or a curse. What I did hate, though, was the way people gave me pitying looks whenever their names came up. As if their pity and looks would help me. This may sound awful but, I didn't even remember them! Ravenwing and Cloudberry. My parents. Again, this sounded awful, but they were just names to me. Maybe one day I'd see things differently... like when I met them in StarClan.
Anyways. Moving on.
"How are you two doing?" asked Ivyrose, beaming at us.
Distractedly, Daisypaw said, "Fine, Mom. Don't you guys, uh, have somewhere else to be?"
Glaring at her, I said, "We're great- we were just goofing off in the woods in the afternoon. How are you both?"
"Wonderful, thanks," Goldenburst said with a warm smile. "How's the training going?"
"Specklepaw!" Daisypaw yelled. Blushing, she covered up hastily. "I mean- got to go. See you guys!"
Both Goldenburst and Ivyrose raised their eyebrows as their daughter scampered away. I thought briefly of betraying her and Specklepaw's on-again off-again relationship, but loyalty to friends always came first. Anyway, I wouldn't be able to keep a straight face while discussing their "love".
Yeah, yeah, I was a cynical old badger. Bite me.
Giving his head a shake, Goldenburst turned back to me. "Anyway, like I was saying; has Dewfrost been teaching you anything interesting lately?"
"Yeah," I said, glancing across the camp to where my mentor sat. "We're working on advanced tuck 'n rolls right now, and after that, he says I'll get to go on to aerial attacks."
Ivyrose gushed, "Really? But you seem far too young to be doing aerial attacks- they only start you on that later in your training, if I remember correctly."
I tried to be modest. "I guess Dewfrost thinks I'm ready."
"Well, congratulations on that. Keep up the excellent work." Leaning forward, Ivyrose licked me on the forehead before she and Goldenburst trotted off.
Behind me, I heard a high-pitched, nasal voice. "Daisypaw, maybe if you got your head out of the clouds and stopped daydreaming about toms, you'd stop being such a klutz and stepping on other cats' tails."
"Well, Minkpaw, maybe if you stopped minding other people's business, no one would step on your tail. In fact, they wouldn't even come near you," Daisypaw retorted.
Ugh. Minkpaw again.
That she-cat had to be the most annoying thing in the world. She was forever following Daisypaw and I around, poking her nose in our business, pointing out our faults, and ruining things for us. She got us into trouble at every opportunity, eavesdropped on our conversations, and occasionally went as far as to hit on Specklepaw - something unforgivable in Daisypaw's sights. It was unbelievable how much you could dislike one she-cat. Whenever I saw her, I usually ran away- avoidance was better then confrontation with my temper. But in this case, when she was bothering Daisypaw, I was obviously going to stick up for my friend.
"Minkpaw, why don't you just get lost? Daisypaw didn't ask for your opinion. She stepped on your tail by accident, so let it go."
Her dark brown eyes narrowed in a sneer. "As if. She's either hopelessly klutzy, or she did it on purpose. Since it's probably both, I think I'll go tell Quailfeather on you guys."
Oh you have got to be kidding. Was she really that immature?
"I doubt Quailfeather has nothing better to do than listen to your complaints," I scoffed. "She's the deputy of SpringClan. Do you honestly think she cares about a little booboo you got on your paw-paw?"
A snarl rose up in Minkpaw's throat. She gave her smooth, dark-brown pelt a lick, tossed her head, and stalked away- noticeably, in the opposite direction of Quailfeather. Satisfied, I turned to Daisypaw. "Did you talk to Specklepaw?"
Horrified, she shook her head. "Of course not! It would be so loser-like to talk to him before our big date tonight."
Utterly confused, I said, "Then why were you looking at him? Just to spy on him?"
"Basically," she admitted without any trace of shame. "And to see if he was picking flowers or anything for me."
"And was he?"
She deflated. "No, but that doesn't mean he won't."
I nodded. "Of course not." Then I gave her a sly wink. "You just keep telling yourself that, honey."
"Oh, shut up Breezepaw. What do you know about toms?" she sniffed.
Well then. I pretended to be offended, though I couldn't really care less; it was true that I didn't particularly care for toms in that way. Except Bluebird, of course. No one could say Bluebird wasn't handsome and get away with it. He was Duskwatcher's younger brother- and while Duskwatcher was equally as stunning, he was mates with Shinecloud. So that left every single she-cat in SpringClan to drool over Bluebird, with his smooth muscles and flashing cobalt eyes. "You remind me of that when I'm mates with Bluebird," I joked. It was no big deal to kid about that- no she-cat actually knew who Bluebird was interested in, so we all pretended it was ourselves. Pathetic? Maybe, but everyone did it, and it wasn't like I drooled over him every hour- like Daisypaw did(and she had Specklepaw! Sheesh!).
"Yeah right. If it doesn't work out with Specklepaw, Bluebird might finally get his dream girl," she giggled.
Feeling slightly too idiotic and girly for my comfort, I shook out my fur and stood. "Hey, didn't your parents invite us over to chat this evening?"
Daisypaw glanced at the sky. "Well, yeah, but we still have plenty of time till then. I'm going to go hunting. Coming with?"
I raced to catch up with her as we headed out of the camp. "Duh. Bet I can catch more prey than you."
Together, we raced off into the woods.
"No, a rabbit is worth way more than three mice!" I argued, dropping my catch on the fresh-kill pile.
"As if! It's three pieces of prey to one," Daisypaw retorted.
We turned towards the warriors' den, where Ivyrose and Goldenburst were waiting for us. "Well, a rabbit takes a lot more effort to catch."
My friend sighed, narrowing her hazel eyes. "Fine. Tie?"
"Okay," I grumbled ungraciously. "But I won."
Daisypaw opened her mouth to answer, when Ivyrose greeted us. "Hello, you two! Have you been out hunting?"
Nodding, I said, "We did pretty well too." I decided not to mention the competition; I'd receive a lecture on how hunting was for the Clan, not for silly games, or something like that.
"That's great," Goldenburst said. "Now, would you look at that sunset? Just look at it."
All of us turned our gazes to where he was looking, and caught our breath.
It was, undoubtedly, one of the prettiest things I'd ever seen in my life. The sun was a melting ball of orange fire touching the treetops on the horizon, and above it swam a plethora of colors. Clouds were dyed red, pink, lilac, powdery blue, and every color in between. Long shadows spilled out over the camp, dappling the fiery glow that we were bathed in.
Breathing in the fresh spring air, I whispered, "Isn't this just perfect?"
Ivyrose gave me a gentle smile. "Perfection is fragile, Breezepaw."
"What do you mean?" I asked absently, drawing swirling patterns in the dust underfoot.
She paused. "I- Nothing really. It's just something I've learned in life. Nothing can stay blissful forever."
"Mom," Daisypaw whined. "You're getting me down. We're young; we don't have to worry about stuff like that. Besides, I want to be happy for my date- I mean, for..."
Luckily, neither of her parents caught her slip. Goldenburst wrapped his tail around Ivyrose, bid us a good night, and vanished inside the warriors' den. The two of us headed back to the apprentices' den.
"Do you think your mom was right? You know, about perfection being fragile."
I heard her chortle. "Don't listen to her. She was just trying to sound deep."
When we reached our nests, I flopped down, contentedly sleepy. Minkpaw was already snoring, so she couldn't bother us. Specklepaw was gone, which had Daisypaw in a tizzy- she was sure he was preparing a place for their date.
Resting my head on my paws, I closed my eyes. And, for some reason, the two names that first popped into my half-dreaming mind were Ravenwing and Cloudberry. The oddest thing? I could see their faces.
Being so young when they had died, I hardly remembered anything about them- apart from what I had heard from my Clanmates. But now... this was different. I was dreaming, but I was sure this was how they had looked.
Cloudberry was a delicate thing, and every bit as beautiful(if not more) as the two prettiest she-cats in SpringClan, sisters Shinecloud and Lilyshade. Luster shone with sun-like brilliance on her golden-white pelt, but even more captivating was the soft kindness in her blue eyes. In Ravenwing, I quickly recognized my own sharp green eyes and ebony pelt, as well as that same quality of cynic defiance. Had he had a gift for sarcasm and a quick temper like I did?
Suddenly, I was struck with a pang of sorrow. I wanted to know these cats, these faces in my mind. For once, I realized all I'd missed without knowing it about my parents. Goldenburst and Ivyrose were great, but... ultimately, they weren't mine.
"Ravenwing, Cloudberry," I whispered softly. A soft breeze ran over me in response, and my eyes flew open. I was sure I'd see two ghostly forms before me, come to visit me.
But there weren't.
Oh, face it Breezepaw. Your parents are gone for good.
And despite that, I wasn't alone. I was blessed enough to have a Clan who cared for me, Ivyrose and Goldenburst who had taken me in, and a best friend like Daisypaw, who was always there for me.
Speaking of Daisypaw.
"It's time, Breezepaw." My friend had stolen out of her nest, and paused by mine. A nodding buttercup was tucked behind her ear, and she looked fantastic, I had to admit. "I'm going to see Specklepaw."
"You look gorgeous. He's going to love you. Have a great date," I smiled.
Her face lit up. "Thanks!"
Once she had gone, I curled back up, now ready for a sound sleep.
Rather stupidly and sentimentally, thinking of what Ivyrose had told me about perfect things, I mumbled a sleepy wish to my Clan.
"Good night, SpringClan. Sweet dreams."