Doctor Saplingskies and Nurse Harepaw

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    Hareflight [Mel]

    The events at the gathering had been… troubling, to say the least. However, it seemed that no cats of ShadowClan were ‘seers’ or whatever that ‘tribe’ cat had called them. He had a feeling this ‘tribe’ was nothing more than a group of loners just trying to get attention, so he wasn’t going to let it bother him. At least not visibly. He didn’t want to worry Harepaw or any of his clanmates. He shook his head and slid into his den, carrying two thrushes by their tails.

    “Rise and shine, Harepaw!” he purred cheerily, dropping a bird in front of his sleeping apprentice “Eat up, I’m taking you out today!” She had been cooped up for a few days now, learning the different herbs and helping him sort the stash, so he figured it was time for her to learn hunting techniques, and maybe some fighting moves too. She may be a medicine cat apprentice, but she still needed to know to to feed and defend herself.

    “we’ll be out all day, so I suggest that you eat even if you’re not hungry,” he mewed, settling down in his own nest to eat his meal. “A growling stomach will scare all the prey away.” He flashed the apprentice a grin before happily chowing down. Grief for Blazemoon still sat in the back of his mind, but moping around didn’t do any good. He couldn’t neglect Harepaw. He wanted her to be the best medicine cat she could possibly be.

    “I’m not going to rush you, but I would like to get out of here before it gets too hot. If we’re lucky we’ll make it to the stream by sunhigh.”

    The cheerful voice of her mentor woke the sleeping apprentice, and she glanced up at him and to the thrush. Then she stood, stretching her front paws in front of her, her bobtail wagging as she stretched. Sticking out a white paw, she grabbed the thrush and tugged it closer to her. Her movements were sharp and clear – more deliberate than most things she did outside of the den. The medicine cat den had become her home and in many ways a safe zone for her.

    Her ears perked as he spoke, and a slight smile crossed her maw as she dipped her head to take a bite of her meal. Being cooped up in the den had only allowed her to mull over the events of the gathering, something that had been filling her mind on the daily. Memorization had never been an issue for her, and she had grasped the different types of herbs rather quickly, leaving her excited to focus on something else. Harepaw finished her meal quickly, nudging the bones away from her, her dual coloured gaze fixing on her mentor excitedly.

    “Let’s go,” she purred, flexing her claws. “I’m ready to learn something new.” A slightly hesitant grin split her maw, and her head tipped to the side to watch him. Besides the obvious reasons for needing to learn how to hunt, Harepaw figured it could help her from being so isolated from the other apprentices. Even her brothers – it seemed that they were excited and so sure of their paths as warriors, and if she could relate her experiences to them, maybe she’d feel the same about her own destiny.

    The young she-cat’s enthusiasm made Saplingskies chuckle softly, and he quickly finished his meal so they could get moving. He stood, stretched, then paused for a moment “Hm, let me check the herbs first. If we need any fresh ones, we can collect some on the way home tonight.”

    It usually took the meticulous young tom ages to count the herbs and check their freshness, but he simply gave them a quick glance over this time “Hm. We may need to take a walk near twoleg place for some catmint and lavender. We’ll see how we feel after our hunting trip… maybe you’ll see your first kittypet if we do~” he teased, lightly nudging his apprentice with his paw.

    “Alright, grab your bones, we’ll bury them once we get outside. Come along.” And with that, Saplingskes picked up what was left of his meal, slipped out of the den, and headed out of camp.

    Once outside, he dug a hole and buried the bird’s bones. “Always remember to thank StarClan for the life of every single piece of prey you catch and every bit of fresh-kill you eat, Harepaw. Never hunt for sport, as prey is killed only to be eaten. As silly as it may sound, these creatures deserve respect, because without them, we would all starve.” He bowed his head to send a silent prayer to StarClan, then waited for Harepaw to do the same.

    Harepaw listened intently to her mentor, nodding her head, and waiting patiently as he checked over the herbs. It was surprising how quickly he had looked over them, and Harepaw figured he must be anxious to get out of camp as well. With everything going on, she couldn’t say she blamed him – he’d been through a lot lately. She wondered how he was doing… I’ll check in with him later, she decided, focusing back on Saplingskies.

    She smiled slightly at his comment about the kittypets. In some ways, she could understand why they lived life like they did, far away from the anxieties that came with living life on the edge. However, Harepaw could also never imagine living the way they did. It was in her blood, she supposed, as anxious as she got about clan life.

    The apprentice picked up the bones, following swiftly after Saplingskies as he slipped out of camp. Following his lead, she dug a hole and buried the bones, looking over at him as he spoke. She watched him silently, listening to his instructions before bowing her own head. She liked that. Every creature was worth something, that every creature contributed something, every creature was part of a plan. And she was too.

    Harepaw smiled slightly, sent a silent prayer up to StarClan, then opened one eye to glance at him, checking he was done.

    Saplingskies nodded in satisfaction as Harepaw did as he instructed. Apprentices usually rolled their eyes when their mentors instructed them to appreciate their food. “Thank you, Harepaw. Let’s move out!” He purred, trotting away from camp and towards the Tall Pines.

    After a a brief walk, the two arrived at their first destination. The tom scented the air to make sure it was safe before beginning the lesson. “Alright, before we begin, it’s important that you perfect your hunting crouch. If your crouch is improper, you’ll be off balance and you’ll move too loudly, which will alert the prey. Observe.”

    He dropped into a crouch, making sure his paws were spaced correctly and his tail was low, but not brushing the ground. He crept forward slowly, not making a sound, then suddenly leaped forward, landing right on top of a pine cone. Once he was done, he trotted back over to Harepaw, grinning happily. “Now, you’ll practice your technique on the pine cones before we move to live prey. It sounds strange, but its how I learned to hunt.”

    He sat down and curled his tail around his paws. “Now, show me your crouch. We’ll start from there.”

    Harepaw followed after Saplingskies, her paws pattering quickly to keep up with the medicine cat. She watched closely to how he scented the air as they reached their destination, trying to pay close attention to everything he did, trying to keep herself busy and focused. As he crouched down, she watched him, though nerves began to build in her chest. Harepaw knew she could do this, but as with trying anything new, she worried. Besides, she had never been the most coordinated cat… Part of why she’d been thrown into the life of a medicine cat. She would never had made a good warrior. Harepaw frowned to herself, mulling over her thoughts.

    When she snapped out of it, she noticed Saplingskies watching her, and connected the dots. “Oh- Uh-” She stammered, glaring down at the ground for a moment. Slowly she crouched down, trying to line her paws up an equal distance from each other than her shoulders. Her tail wouldn’t touch the ground – that had never been an issue for her – but this took some of her balance, and she wobbled slightly on her paws. Her whiskers twitched in embarrassment and she continued to glare down at the ground, her claws slipping out to dig into the ground so she could stabilize herself. “L-Like this?” She asked softly, her ears spinning to him though her eyes did not.

    He nodded, slowly circling around Harepaw to check her crouch. “Very good, very good. Allow me to make a couple adjustments, though.” He said, gently repositioning her legs to help her balance. He then had her crouch a little lower, since she didn’t need to worry about her tail brushing the ground. He looked her over once more before sitting back down.

    “Now, I want to watch you stalk. Move as quietly as possible to that tree-” He gestured with his paw to a tree that was directly in front of Harepaw, a few fox lengths away “-and come back. Stay in your crouch and remember to be silent. If you make noise, you could alert the prey and send it running. Give it a shot! It may take a couple tries, but you can do it!” He grinned at Harepaw, flicking his tail to signal her to go.

    Harepaw allowed her limbs to be nudged as Saplingskies circled around her. As he did this, she steeled herself, vowing silently to herself that she’d try to be more confident in her movements – at least during this training session. If she started overthinking, she was sure she’d mess something up and ultimately end up disappointed her mentor, and that was the last thing she wanted. For a brief moment, Harepaw shut her eyes, taking a moment to listen to the padding of Saplingskies paws on the pine needles below them, opened her mouth to let the scent of the forest rise to her scent glands, and let herself simply feel the earth below her paws. Flexing her claws, she opened her eyes again, feeling calmer and more focused. Now, she was ready, and as Saplingskies spoke, she did not look back. Her eyes remained trained in front of her, but her ears swiveled back to prove she was indeed listening.

    After his sign to go, she took a few moments to focus herself on the tree. It’s okay if you go really slowly. Focus on being quiet. That’s just one thing. Of course, it was made up of many things, but convincing herself to focus on one task helped Harepaw concentrate, and that’s what she needed now. She kept herself low to the ground, her eyes and ears trained on the tree in front of her, though her eyes darted down to the ground to make sure there weren’t any twigs that would make any noise. One paw at a time, Harepaw crept. It was agonizingly slow – watching the grass grow might have been more entertaining for Saplingskies – but the apprentice was trying her best. Eventually, she made it to the tree, and feeling more confident this time around, she tried to pick up the pace. She had to remind herself to crouch low and bring her rear back down a few times, but she soon made it back to her mentor, offering a grin. She had felt pretty good about her attempt, and despite the fact it was simply a tree and not real prey, she hoped her mentor would be proud of her too.

    Saplingskies watched her intently, trying to keep a calm, neutral face. However, he couldn’t hide the joy glimmering in his eyes. She was doing well, which must mean that he is doing well as her mentor. He often worried that he wasn’t doing right by her. This gave him hope that he was a good mentor after all.

    “Very good! You did even better than I did when I first started learning how to stalk prey!” He purred, smiling happily. “I want you to practice pouncing on a few pine cones before we move on to live prey. Pine cones can’t run away, so they’re good for practicing. You want to make sure the wind won’t blow your scent towards the prey, so position yourself carefully. Stalk around and pounce on three pine cones, and bring them back to me. Once we’ve finished this exercise, I think you’ll be ready to try and catch something to take back to the clan!”

    “And don’t worry about your speed. You’ll get faster as you get more comfortable with it.” He smiled at her, then gave her the signal to go. He hoped she didn’t think he was making her do all these things because he didn’t have faith in her. He was simply trying to build her confidence.

    At his praise, Harepaw’s gaze lit up, joy shining in her amber and blue eyes. Behind her, her stumpy tail wagged contently. “Y-You really think so?” She said, unable to hold back the purr in her voice. After he’d finished speaking, her gaze shifted to the pine cone littered floor as she silently picked out two. Her tail had stopped wagging now, and she raised her nose to the air, trying to get an idea of where the wind was coming from. Once she’d pinpointed it, she laid her eyes on one of her pine cones, lowering herself into a crouch as she’d done before, checking once to make sure she was upwind of her pine cone of choice. After her previous exercise, she felt more confident. I wonder if Badgerpaw or Raccoonpaw did this well their first time? Harepaw wondered, feeling her chest swell with pride. Then again, neither of them have as good a mentor as me.

    She smiled, her eyes narrowing on the pine cone as she began to stalk quietly forward. She moved with purpose – and this might have been the most confident she’d felt since being pulled into her new role. She felt a twig snap under one of her paws, and her ears flicked in irritation and embarrassment – the only sign she’d recognized it. Still, even if regular prey would have darted off, she was determined to keep trying. After all, that was the point of this exercise. After deciding she was close enough to the pine cone, her butt waggled slightly and she leaped forward. However, Harepaw overestimated her balance in the air. Her front paws came crashing down, though her hind legs came following after her quite quickly, and she unsheathed her claws to try and catch herself in the pine needle strewn ground. Despite her brave attempt, Harepaw slipped, falling forward with a thump, pine cone still in hand.

    Mouse dung.

    Saplingskies watched her closely. She was doing great! He heard the twig snap, but that was to be expected. Mistakes happen. He shrugged it off at first, but then he saw her jump, and the way she was about to land.


    Oh dear…” He quickly padded over to Harepaw, gently nudging her to her belly “Are you alright?” He asked, concern obvious in his voice. Most mentors would be upset or embarrassed if their apprentice messed up such a simple task, but Harepaw had seemingly landed pretty hard. The last thing he wanted was for her to get hurt.

    He nudged her to her paws, making sure she didn’t get up too quickly. “Are you in any pain?” He asked, checking her over for any cuts or scrapes. He was almost like a mother fretting over her kit.

    Harepaw’s ears pressed back against her head, and for a few moments she just laid there, tears beginning to well up in her eyes – however, they were not from pain. As Saplingskies began to prod, she pushed herself to her feet, glancing away from him, her face burning with embarrassment. She’d gotten too confident, too excited. She’d been a fool. I’m a medicine cat apprentice because I can’t do anything else. This thought seemed to upset her further, and her eyes clouded over with tears, her short tail pressing tightly against her body. It took her a few moments before she realized Saplingskies had said something.

    Harepaw shook her head, ducking it away from Saplingskies. “I’m fine. N-No – No, I’m not in- in any pain.” She scowled slightly at her stammer, but said no more. Her claws were unsheathed and she began to dig circles in the soil beneath their paws to keep herself concentrating on something other than her emotions and her mentor – Was he disappointed in her? She swallowed her nerves, her brows furrowing together. It would be miracle if he wasn’t disappointed in her. Harepaw took a shaky breath, shaking her head again, preparing her words in her mind before she spoke them. “I’m.. fine. Let me… Let me just try again.” Her voice was soft, quiet, long gone was the determination she’d shown moments before.

    She couldn’t even hunt a pine cone.

    Instead of being angry or telling her to try again, Saplingskies simply wrapped his tail around Harepaw and pulled her close. “You can try again in a moment, but first I want you to take a moment to relax.” He said gently, rasping his tongue over her head. “You can’t hunt well if your thoughts are preoccupied. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s alright. You can cry if you want to, I won’t judge you.”

    He nuzzled her, making it obvious that he wasn’t disappointed or upset. “Even the greatest hunter in the clan was once an apprentice. They probably still make mistakes with hunting. Just learn from this, take a moment to recollect, and when you’re ready, you may try again. I believe in you, Harepaw.” He purred, nudging her affectionately.

    “I’m here to teach you, and this is part of the learning process. Someday you’ll do the same for your own apprentice.”

    Hareflight [Mel]

    Harepaw closed her eyes, listening silently to Saplingskies’ voice. She said nothing, her ears fixed to listen to him as she sniffled quietly. However, her sniffles eventually died down, and it seemed his words and his affectionate actions served to calm her. Her head bobbed in acknowledgement. It was in these moments, right then, that it first struck Harepaw how lucky she was to have Saplingskies as her mentor. Many other mentors might have snapped, or thought her foolish for crying over something so simple. But he understood that it wasn’t just that – it was the stress of her role, it was the events of the gathering, it was a million things and this was simply the thing that caused her to snap. And Saplingskies understood that.

    She sniffled once, nuzzling against his shoulder affectionately while she calmed down. When she believed she’d collected herself enough, she spoke. “Thank you,” she said softly, and it was clear how much she appreciated it. Perhaps it was an outburst of emotion she’d needed, but it was also a moment she had required to realize how much she truly needed Saplingskies in her life. Her ears flicked and she brought a paw up to rub at her face. Then she stood, and bumped her head softly against his shoulder. “I-I think I’m ready to try again.”


    Saplingskies smiled at Harepaw, purring as she bumped his shoulder. “I believe in you. Just be careful with the landing. Let me demonstrate for you one more time, alright? Be sure to watch closely.” His voice was gentle as he dropped into a crouch. “Be sure to do exactly as I do.”

    He crept forward slowly, inching closer and closer to his target, then leaped, landing gracefully on the pine cone. He returned to Harepaw, resting his tail on her shoulder. “Be sure to monitor your balance, and don’t being your front paws down too quickly. If you think you’re ready to try again, you may proceed.” He took his tail off her shoulder, signaling for her to go.

    Hareflight [Mel]

    Her eyes narrowed to slits as she watched her mentor leap ever-gracefully onto the pine cone. Once more, she ran the image of it over in her mind, silently making note of things to keep in mind. Then, as his tail lifted off her shoulder, Harepaw nodded and crouched.

    Once in her crouched position, she did a quick check: Her tail obviously wasn’t an issue, and her belly wasn’t so low to the ground that it would make any noise. Then, she began to stalk forward, making sure to shift her weight if she felt herself moving off balance. Her paws moved slowly as she crept towards a pine cone. Once she felt she was close enough, Harepaw leaped, coming down on the pine cone. While she still wasn’t exactly graceful, she’d landed successfully on the pine cone, and glanced back at him, smiling. “Was that better?”

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