fox likes this
Post by goldcrest on Aug 6, 2022 0:41:52 GMT -5
Nectarinepaw had taken a solitary spot beside Clementinepaw, expression drawn and bored, eyes drifting this way and that because absolutely anything else was more interesting than whatever Foxstar was prattling on about. He knew it made sense to announce whomever had moved up, to celebrate them, to cheer and clap and praise, because apparently their new names were something they earned — though Nectarinepaw didn't quite feel like he earned his, and he certainly didn't know how, and he extra certainly didn't care to. It was a strange tradition, but one he, in a way, understood. In the time just before the Wraith, and occasionally afterwards, when he and Clementinepaw would attend those brawls in old alleyways or behind buildings, and though it was mostly to scam others with rigged bets the energy was infectious. He recalled the cheering, the preening, the taunts thrown at the losing side and the cheers directed towards the winner. It was a game, a violent one, but a game nonetheless, and hard feelings almost never remained. Those brawls were where he learned a lot of what he knew; he'd taken the things he saw and made them better, made them work. These ceremonies weren't quite the same, there was no fighting, no blood, only fond announcements for one of their own, but they seemed to hype it up as if it were the most exciting thing in the world, and it was almost puzzling to watch.
He was put on a team with Foxstar and some other apprentice he only knew the name of because it had just been called, he'd just been promoted. Nectarinepaw expected Foxstar to continue, waiting to hear Clementinepaw's name after his, but it never came. The expression that had previously been dully amused turned sour, and his eyes flickered between Foxstar and Clementinepaw, though his head hardly moved to indicate it. We’re not together. He tilted his head aside, letting out a nervous titter and a quiet click of his tongue.
"Indeed we're not. . ." He curled his tail around her, comforting and protective, trying to ease her breathing, and though he was gentle with her his eyes were fixed sharply, furious, on Foxstar. "He certainly does not. As soon as this," he nodded towards Peonypaw and Sunrisepaw, "is over, I'll have a word." That was what he did — he spoke, he voiced their mutual complaints, he fixed things, and he would complain and bargain until he got his way. Most of their waking days were spent together, they were inseparable because to be separated was to be vulnerable — for each other, they were the only things they had left, the only grounding, familiar thing, so in sync it felt, almost, as though they would lose a part of themselves if they were separated. Their dependence on each other was strikingly obvious, and perhaps that was why the decision was made in the first place, because Nectarinepaw could see logic, he simply hated to accept it.
When the scene was over, most of the words having flown over his head, Nectarinepaw stepped forward, leaving Clementinepaw where she sat, approaching Foxstar with a pensive, pointed expression. "Yes, pardon me," he didn't try to sound apologetic, "I'm afraid those arrangements you've said don't quite. . . work." He gave another airy, nervous giggle, but it was tinged with fire, "see, me and Clementinepaw aren't on the same team and, well, you know, we don't quite work like that. I'm sure it's no big deal, you can switch the teams around a little, right? I mean, it really seems that nobody is too happy with theirs," he cast a look at Peonypaw, eyeing her for a moment, before turning back to Foxstar.
Petuniapaw kept her excitement to herself, tucked just beneath her bland expression, though it was apparent in the way the fur on her shoulders was ruffled, in how her paws shifted every so often, in how her eyes were starlit. She'd picked a matching purple hibiscus for herself, groomed her fur to perfection, made sure she stood tall and squared, but she hadn't had the routine that Peonypaw had — it was exciting, it was the first proper ceremony, but the importance of it excited her more than the presentation. Kithood had grown dull and boring, there wasn't much to do, she felt like a drag for not knowing how to contribute, and apprenticeship was the time she could learn. Petuniapaw was a rule-follower, she thrived on structure and order and instruction, and kithood had provided a freedom she wasn't quite sure how to manage, and her uncertainty presented itself in bossiness, in being the party-killer. When her team was announcd first, she gave each of them a look, one that, to most, would appear just as dull as before, but to her conveyed more anxiety than she would have liked. She had never been good with others, and the newness, although the prospect excited her, made her feel nervous, small, inadequate. She wanted to impress them, and she wanted to do well, but her mind wanted to convince her she had already failed.
When the team Peonypaw was one was announced, Petuniapaw gave a look at her sister — the heart eyes weren't difficult to miss, she'd noticed them every time her sister caught sight of Sunrisepaw, even though all they seemed to do what argue and hate each other, and Petuniapaw didn't quite get it. She was in a similar boat to Doefreckle, though for entirely different reasons. In part, she simply wasn't fond of Sunrisepaw — she was rude and vain, loud and obnoxious about it, and though she was prone to her own bouts of bad-temperament, she was never quite on the level that Sunrisepaw was. She didn't like who Peonypaw was with her. Another part was almost jealousy. More of her sister's attention had been on Sunrisepaw instead of with her; she'd spent more time trailing her, trying to impress her, arguing with her even through the apparent crush, and Petuniapaw felt left behind. She didn't understand it, she didn't want to.
While they argued, she hunched her shoulders, shrinking back into the crook between Shadedsun's forelegs and giving a small, irritated huff. Shadedsun could only laugh, hardly audible, quietly amused. Out of the three of them, he was possibly the last to know, finding out through Doefreckle's complaints and comments about the lovesick look their daughter seemed to cast in the apprentice's direction — he didn't disapprove, not entirely, because even though he was protective (almost overbearingly so) of his family, he also encouraged them to be themselves, to figure who out who that was. He babied them, but he was also lenient. He found their dynamic odd, the constant proclaimed dislike of each other, but he chalked it up to trying to impress, to match Sunrisepaw's energy. He, too, remembered doing silly things just to impress the pretty she-cats or toms who'd pulled at his heartstrings when he was younger (though, unsurprisingly, it never worked out; his love life had a dismal track record). He lifted a paw and rested it atop Petuniapaw's head, giving a few gentle, rhythmic taps, a strange, proud gesture, but he pulled away at the feeling of Peonypaw's presence. He couldn't be prouder of them, but, as Doefreckle did, he felt the same ache. He'd been so close to witnessing Lilydawn's ceremony, she was just shy of it, but he was gone before then. What stung worse, though, was the fact that he wasn't sure if he would have been able to will himself to even attend, because back then, back when everything was darkness in his life before the darkness of his death, he could hardly get himself to move, eat, sleep, at all.
You’re gonna be the best apprentice ever. Petuniapaw let her rub against the fur of her neck, but she didn't offer anything back — it wasn't entirely unusual, she had never been the most physically affectionate, she wasn't loud and brash with her love, it was a quiet, simmering thing, but there was a certain chill in the way she didn't. To cover up her hard feelings, she offered a faint, warm smile, "thanks," her voice was low, not at all the loud proclamation that Peonypaw had made. "I'm sure you'll be great, too."