Episode 5, Season 3 of Home. Enjoy and please tell me what you think :)
Even during our most meaningful struggles, you've helped keep us together
"Great job with your hunting assessment today!" Ashpaw purred, as she and I paddled into camp together. The two of us had done our mini-assessments together and had both been very successful.
"Thanks!" I replied, feeling excited, "There can only be so many more assessments left before we finally get to become warriors!"
The word seemed a little unreal to me, distant but yet it also gives me a push. A motivation. I could remember having the same thoughts when I was first made an apprentice, when Wetstream was telling us the story of WaterClan and FireClan, when Secretpaw and I stumbled upon Star, when I fought in the final battle against StarClan... the memories all pile up, one by one, sending a warm feeling through me. I had an apprenticeship that could be looked back on.
Ashpaw seemed to be reading my thoughts because there was a thoughtful look in her eyes, "You know it feels odd, comparing myself then to know. Sometimes, when in new, not thought of situations I think back to my old self and wonder what they would think about me now. Would they like me? Be proud to know this was who I became?"
"It's odd-looking back," I agreed, "But looking forward is always more important."
We quickly stopped by the fresh-kill pile. Ashpaw grabbed a large mouse, and after a moment of thought I decided to pick a small bird, feeling my face burn as Ashpaw regarded me curiously.
"That's all you're going to eat?" When I nodded she seemed confused, "But you always take the biggest piece of prey on the pile and then two more!" She exclaimed, narrowing her eyes, "Who are you?"
"Trying to lose some weight," I replied, eyes sparkling, "I want to look nice and thin during my warrior ceremony-and all of this food doesn't just disappear after a few sunrises of eating just a little."
"Well," Ashpaw purred, "I'm impressed that you thought so far-but I'll bet a moon of cleaning the elders' den that you won't get through this meal without taking something else."
"Challenge accepted," I replied, happily, feeling good for the first time in a while. Ever since the odd dreams, and then finally kicking StarClan out of the forest, things had been a little tense for everyone. A little bit of low drama was just what I needed.
But as we entered the apprentice den, I realized with a pang of despair, that it wasn't very likely. The whole of the apprentices, had their eyes trained to the center of the den, where mine went instinctively as well.
What I saw wasn't exactly hopeful.
"That look was meant for me," It was one of the new apprentices-Thistlepaw a brown tabby she-cat with a very fiery attitude. She was about a moon into training, but she had the size, built and sass of a full-grown warrior. Even the oldest of the apprentices feared her when she was in one of her moods. This however, didn't seem like one of her moods, instead she was arguing with Willowpaw.
Willowpaw was around my age, but she was a soft and tender she-cat... at least that's what I knew her to be. But now, as I watched Thistlepaw spitting at her, she wasn't soft of tender at all. She was...
"Don't be ridiculous-he was glancing right at me, when he smiled. He ignored you and your ugly pelt-why would he even want to go near it?" She wrinkled her nose. Well, certainly not the Willowpaw I knew. She was writhing in fury and I wondered what could have triggered this.
"Are they fighting over a tom?" Ashpaw seemed bewildered as sh turned to me, an expression of pure disbelief printed across her face.
"I wonder which," My whiskers twitched, "Tanglepaw? Firepaw? Sunpaw? Reedpaw? Thunderpaw?" The number of apprentices-male included-in WaterClan were countless so it would be impossible to guess.
Ashpaw, sighed slowly, glancing at me, "You willing to intervene?"
"It's much funner to watch!" I replied with excitement, "Especially if they get into a fight!" Seeing the disapproving look on her face I sighed, "Alright, but you take Thistlepaw."
"Scared of a young apprentice?" Ashpaw teased, but said nothing more as she approached Thistlepaw, pushing her away from Willowpaw, murmuring something softly into her ear, and I dashed up to Willowpaw.
"Hey," I whispered. Realizing I had no idea how to be a peacemaker I shrugged, "Probably not the best place to argue-the tom it is you're fighting over will probably end up hearing about this and figuring it's him you both like!"
Willowpaw, sharper than I had ever seen her before snapped, "Fine! I'll claw her pelt off later somewhere out of camp where no one else will be able to rip her pelt off with these claws!"
She was just joking. But even as a joke this was far for soft, tender, loving Willowpaw. She must have felt very passionately about the tom they were fighter over who had smiled at.
As Willowpaw stalked off to the corner I paddled up to Featherpaw, curiosity as to whom they had fighting about getting the best of me.
"Scarpaw," Featherpaw rolled her eyes, "They actually fought over Scarpaw. Despite the fact that he's never interacted with either of them before."
I frowned, feeling a little anxious; Scarpaw had been discovered by Mintpaw and I and I considered him to be a good cat, especially after all he had went through. I also considered him my friend and the thought of having my friend outing Thistlepaw really was disturbing.
"Oh," I shrugged, "I guess she-cats have their tastes."
"I guess so."
I sat down next to her quickly, taking a huge bite out of my small bird and promising myself that I would not grab anything else from the fresh-kill pile.
"This time you've got it, Aquapaw!" Ashpaw and Brightpaw both encouraged me together. I allowed their faith-or fake faith as I figured it really was-to give me confidence as I leaped through the air, applying all the tactics I had been taught over my apprenticeship, arching through the air, claws extended, a smooth graceful leap, as my first paw reached the ground and my second one approched to make the strike.
Before, by some misstep I ended up tumbling over, and before I could even yell mousedung! he rabbit had bounced off rapidly.
"Mousedung!" I hissed, as I pushed myself up to my paws, "I had that one!"
"Shh," Brightpaw silenced me quickly with a flick of her tail, and I strained my ear to try and hear her ear had caught a glimpse of. It wouldn't be FireClan, I decided, as I strained by ear further-they owed us a very fresh favor and after what we had just done this was no way to repay them.
It was two cats fighting-and both WaterClan and that.
Without hesitation, the three of us raced through the woods, to the source of the noise and somehow I was not surprised at all when I found Thistlepaw and Willowpaw snarling at each other, teeth bared claws unsheathed.
"Are they mousebrains?" I rolled my eyes, "Why would they fight over Scarpaw? I mean I get he's got the looks, but he's the favorite for most likely to become leader among the elders and senior warriors!"
"I thought you were jealous of that title?" Ashpaw eyed me suspiciously.
I snorted, "I just pretended to be around him as not to hurt his feelings. If you get that title it generally just means you're the biggest suck-up who never fights and always tries to chicken out of things with peace."
"If you say so," Brightpaw's eyes held amusement for a moment before she turned back to look at the two she-cats, both of whom were so enraged they hadn't even noticed us coming.
"Back off, Thistlepaw."
"I'd like to enjoy this," I offered, "I've never seen Willowpaw getting this hyped about anything before, and I need some time to take a mental image before i break this up."
Still no reaction from either of them.
"Take it fast," Brightpaw hissed, "They're going to rip each other to shreds if we don't pull them off of each other quick enough!"
I thought back to what Willowpaw had said to me when I claimed it wasn't a good idea to fight with Thsitlepaw in public over a tom.
"Fine! I'll claw her pelt off later somewhere out of camp where no one else will be able to rip her pelt off with these claws!"
No, I decided, it wouldn't go that far. But, Brightpaw had a point-and a good one. If this escalated any further it might not result in any serious injuries but it could leave wounds. Over a tom. A tom both would likely get over within the next few sunrises. Over Scarpaw. If I remembered correctly Thistlepaw hadn't even liked Scarpaw at first-she was completely suspicious until the final showdown with StarClan.
"Alright," I nodded, "I've got it-now do we just walk in there and break them apart? It's not like it'll put an end to the problem. They'll just end up fighting again somewhere else."
"We should put an end to this nonsense," Brightpaw agreed, "But not entirely sure how."
"What if we brought Scarpaw here and got him to tell them he thinks they are both ugly slime, and that he had been smiling as he left camp because he no longer had to be near them.
"Scarpaw wouldn't say that-and if we got him to even they would know he wasn't sincere," Suddenly a felt a hole of anger burning through me.
These cats hardly even knew Scarpaw and they thought it was okay to just fight over him. There had once been a tom I knew for moons as a kit, whom Brightpaw had also liked, as I could remember, and the two of us hadn't exchanged an unfriendly word about it! To get so snappy over a cat they had just met and began to see the light in, especially at a time of confusion and approaching darkness for the Clan...
"We need Scarpaw though," I snapped, "Ashpaw, why don't you go grab him, while Brightpaw and I try to work some sort of plan out to get these two out of each others fur."
They were still snarling at each other, still not noticing us, despite the fact that we were standing only several trees away from them. They would pounce at any moment, I realized.
"Hurry!" I called after Ashpaw, who had already spun off and was dashing to get Scarpaw whom I figured was still in the apprentice den.
"What do we get him to say for them to knock it off?" I questioned, "Just claiming he's not interested wouldn't work-they would only compete more to make sure he was."
"I don't know," Brightpaw frowned, "You think a good talk would get through to their heads?"
"It's worth a try," I offered, "Why don't you go there and snap at them a little about how foolish they are being-it'll either serve as a distraction until Scarpaw comes and we can think of something then, or if we get lucky it can solve this issue with words."
"I'll try," Brightpaw nodded and was soon running up to them, pushing herself between them, anger glinting in her eyes as the two she-cats flinched away from each other, just noticing Brightpaw.
"And what in StarClan's name do you think you're doing?" Her gaze hid none of her frustration and disbelief, "You're clawing at each other over Scarpaw?"
"Willowpaw won't accept that he likes me."
"Why you-" I was on my paws and pulling Willowpaw back by the scruff before she had the chance to lay her desperate claws onto Thistlepaw.
"You guys are Clanmates, not rivals."
"But Scarpaw clearly likes me more," Thistlepaw snapped, pounding her feet onto the ground, "I'm mad at her for not accepting it and letting it go."
"He doesn't like either of you," Brightpaw replied, "Honest to StarClan-we were chatting the other day and he told me who he really likes."
I glanced at her, not finding lying to be something Brightpaw would do, but when I looked into her eyes I realized it was the truth she was telling. I decided I would nag it out of her later on.
"Then he'll learn to like me," Willowpaw decided.
"Your love and obsession of Scarpaw will only last a moon, a season at most," Brightpaw snapped, "But if you two can get over this and build a friendship that will last an eternity. Don't you two understand? When that mouse spoke, he was saying an enemy from within? He meant our dangerous emotions. Jealousy is one of the most formidable among the dark things we feel. You have to learn to defeat this.. for yourselves, for the other apprentices and Scarpaw... for the Clan."
All was silent for a moment as what Brightpaw said began to sink into the two she-cats. Right around the same moment Scarpaw dashed through the trees, an embarrassed look in his eyes.
I could tell by the sudden spark of attention from the two that they did like him. I doubted it would be something that would last but for a moment I could understand what had caused it.
Then, Thistlepaw did something I'd never seen her do before.
"I'm sorry," She whispered, "I just... got carried away. Brightpaw was right-it was that secret, unseen enemy from within but it did such a good job of hiding itself..."
"I know," Willowpaw smiled, stepping forward too, "I'd really love to just... put this behind us now," She offered a shy smile.
As the two cats made peace and Scarpaw emerged himself into a discussion with Ashpaw, I bounded up to Brightpaw, feeling proud of my friend.
"That was an amazing talk," I whispered, "If you're in a stable state when this happens to the rest of WaterClan. there's no way we can lose!"
"Thanks, Aquapaw," She blushed.
"So..." I trailed off for a moment, "Who is it that Scarpaw likes?"
"I promised not to tell anyone."
I prodded her playfully, "But you know I won't tell anyone either. I promise. Honest to StarClan. Please, Brightpaw, my curiosity will get the best of me! You have to tell me! You know you're going to tell me."
"Nope," She laughed.
"You are going to tell me," I replied, still poking her, "You're going to tell me, you're going to tell me, you're going to tell me..."