She missed her mother. She missed the nursery. She missed her nest. Her little body shook as another coughing fit hit her. These fits were getting worse, and as she'd been told by several of the adults it wasn't going to get better first. She'd have to suffer through it just like everyone else while eating the herbs that would help her get better. In the meantime, she was lonely and could only cuddle with the pile of sick apprentices that had come along to the quarantine zone. She could only stay close to her brother, who was just as sick as she was, and hope things get better soon. When was her mother coming to get her? She knew her mother wasn't sick but did that mean she couldn't come to see them? She didn't know and didn't want to risk her mentor's ire by asking.
Amberpaw was a smart apprentice. Quiet, watchful. She knew that everyone was upset with being separated from the Clan, but that it was for a good reason. She didn't want Fawnpaw to get sick too, and it made her sad that her fellow apprentices were already sick. Still, while she didn't want to get out of her makeshift nest, she did have to try and keep her strength up. So she got up, coughing and aching, and staggered out of the nest to try and find a use for herself before she was too sick to get up anymore.
i wish everyone was loved tonight and somehow stop this endless fight
Logically, a quarantine made perfect sense, and it was the best way they could minimize the spread of what Gorsetail now knew was greencough. He knew it. Lionstar knew it. Bluejay and Falconstorm likely would have suggested this course of action had their deputy and leader not thought of it first. But simply knowing that it was the smart thing to do did not make it any easier. By nature, the sickness often spread throughout close-knit groups, and where one cat was sick, so where the rest; however, they had, luckily, caught this epidemic early enough that that was not the case. But it meant that families had been split up. Some cats adapted, but there were others on whom the distance was taking its toll - and it was to them that Gorsetail's heart went out.
Even if Lionstar had not put him in charge of this makeshift camp, the deputy would have quietly kept track of everyone to see what he could do to make their lives easier, so Amberpaw's growing loneliness did not entirely escape his notice. But he was distracted with his own poor health and with Bluejay's sickness and with trying to figure out how a camp of cats who were barely able to move could possibly hope to feed themselves. Assigning patrols, a task that in and of itself was not too painful (unless Lionstar got to a certain cat first and forgot to tell him, which had happened once or twice before), had become a nightmare. Naturally, he let the ones that could hardly walk get their much needed rest, but that meant that those that were only mildly sick were expected to pull their weight and then some. At the same time, Gorsetail also didn't want anyone overworking themselves and making their condition worse. Although Falconstorm traveled back and forth between the thicket and the main camp to help his mentor, it was also important to make sure that they didn't run out of the necessary herbs. He felt as though he were trying to walk across thin ice; one misstep and everything could fall to pieces.
So when he saw Amberpaw, who he had mentally marked off as one of the sicker cats, staggering toward him, he had to bite back his first instinct, which was to tell her to get back to her nest and see if she could get some rest. Admittedly, he did not know her as well as he knew some of the other apprentices, but it did not take long to realize that she was a smart she-cat. She didn't need to be told to rest like a kit. Ears flicking, Gorsetail finished sending out a hunting patrol and crossed the distance between himself and the younger apprentice. "Hey Amberpaw," He greeted her, hoping he didn't sound as tired as he felt. A cough rattled through his frame, and he winced slightly - that one hurt. "Everything okay? How are you and your brother?"
She squeaked when Gorsetail called her, starting to cough so hard that she fell over before she could get herself under control. Once she was able, the skinny she-cat gave their Deputy a lopsided smile. "I'm hanging in there. I just wanted to have a short walk. Maybe it'll help keep my strength up if I'm not just sleeping in my nest. Moss grows at the edge of the clearing right? Maybe I could help gather some and change out the nests for everyone?" She wanted, so very much, to be of use. To feel that she was doing something for her Clan even if she was very sick and still pretty small.
Amberpaw took a moment again, this time to let her body rest from another coughing fit before she answered. "Aspenpaw and I are doing our best. I know we're sick." She shuddered. "Mother told me a great cough took the rest of our litter before we came to the valley even if I don't remember it." Because she had no idea that Aspenpaw wasn't part of that litter with she and Fawnpaw. "Am I going to see my mother and sister again?" Her eyes burned, and she once more felt like a kit.
Without thinking about how she was supposed to be a big cat now, how she was supposed to be an apprentice who didn't act his way, she tucked against Gorsetail's side as her body shook with both fear and coughing. "I want to go home."
i wish everyone was loved tonight and somehow stop this endless fight
”If you feel up to it, then I think that sounds like a great idea, Amberpaw.” A small smile accompanied the warm words. It was rare to find an apprentice who performed their basic chores without complaint, let along willingly took the duty on themselves. Trying to instill such a work ethic in his own apprentice, Finchpaw, was a battle in itself; while Gorsetail encouraged curiosity and questions, it was impossible to get the opinionated young tom to do anything he did not want to without first weathering a barrage of inquiries. Compared to him, the she-cat’s quiet sense of responsibility was incredibly refreshing. Idly he wondered if there was any chance some of it might rub off on Finchpaw. ”I’m sure there are a lot of cats here who would appreciate some fresh moss.”
As if in sympathetic response to her own fit, a series of coughs attacked Gorsetail’s thin frame, and he turned away to let it run its course, ears pivoting back toward Amberpaw in a vain attempt to catch what she was saying. But by the time he had recovered, he had missed everything except the question she asked in a voice that was suddenly so small. The deputy opened his mouth to respond, but before he could get a word in, she suddenly rushed forward and pressed against his side. Unprepared to support the sudden weight, he stumbled slightly but quickly righted himself, reluctant to jostle the small she-cat any further. Tabby haunches lowered to the ground as he sat, tail coming around to rest gently across her shoulders as he felt her entire body trembling against his. Intuition told him that this breakdown had been a long time coming as the pressure of apprentice duties and being separated from half of her family and worrying about her brother slowly piled up over time.
For a while he just sat there quietly, holding her as he tried to decide what to say. He didn’t want to offer useless platitudes and promises that he could not keep. She was a strong young she-cat, and despite the severity of her case, she was putting up more of a fight than some of the others who had been quarantined – but there was no guarantee that her situation could not change for the worse overnight. Yet even as this reluctance kept his jaws shut, heart went out to her, and he turned and touched the top of her head with his nose at her admission. So do I. When he finally spoke, his words came soft and gentle. ”I know it’s hard,” He murmured, words falling from his lips before he had time to pause and consider their implications. ”They’re waiting for you and Aspenpaw to feel better. You’ve been so strong, and they’ll be so proud and happy to see you when you go home.”
I respect those who tell me the truth, no matter how hard it is.
It started as a cough then a heaviness in his chest before he noticed there was something truly wrong with him. Bluejay insisted he be moved to the medicine cat's den. It was clear something was wrong. Aspenpaw wasn't sure how long ago that was. He went down hill so quickly that even he wasn't fully aware of his condition. All he knew was that it hurt to breathe and everything felt cold and hot at the same time.
He could also barely remember Lionsong helping him to the hidden thicket before succumbing to his illness once again. Between bouts of fever and painful coughing the tom-cat hadn't done much beyond rest.
Having his sister near him made things better and sleeping a little easier, just like when they were younger. Until he realized that she had wandered away from him. Opening his eyes he quickly shut them, the light was too bright and made his head hurt. Rolling onto his stomach, Aspenpaw tucked his head into the stale moss of his nest, before looking up again. This time was the light wasn't too bad but he still ached all over. Having woken from a dream he didn't remember, Aspenpaw had a strong sense of dread fill him as he tired to find Amberpaw but didn't see her right away. Panic swelled in his chest as he tried to find her, blinking through his light-sensitivity. Where was she! Had something happened to her and no one tell him! Forcing himself to stand, Aspenpaw stumbled for a bit before he managed to find footing. Taking slow steps forward Aspenpaw kept his head tucked down until he heard her voice.
It was distant and sounded ragged but he was certain it was her. Following her voice he didn't stop until he nearly walked right into her. "Sister!" He meowed toward her, disregarding the fact that she was talking with Gorsetail. Instead he nearly collapsed on top of her, relying on his knowledge the Amberpaw was home right now. She was his connection to his mother and his other sister, if he wanted to be safe he needed to be near her. "Don't leave me please," He managed to whisper before a cough racked through his body, leaving him gasping slightly for breath. "You can't leave me," He added before moving away from her slightly and sliding down, it was exhausting just to walk the short distances from his nest to his sister, but he'd do it again. Anything to be near her and by safe.
At least Gorsetail hadn't let her fall over for daring to snuggle in against his hide like a kit. She didn't feel very well and her mother was back at camp. What was she supposed to do? But she felt slightly comforted and was stepping away under the knowledge that she was being brave and that she'd go home and everyone would be happy to see her. She was glad, in hindsight, that she wasn't still cuddled up to the massive tom. She wasn't a big she-cat, and Aspenpaw wasn't a big tom, but together they could probably have knocked over their sick Deputy.
As it was, once he essentially fell on her she started and nudged at him. "Aspenpaw!" He'd cried out for her, and his coughing was worse than hers. "I'm here." She nudged him and nuzzled him. "I just went out for a sec. The moss beds smell funny, I was going to get fresh moss for everyone. Wouldn't that be nice? Sleeping on fresh, clean moss that doesn't smell like sick?" When he slid to the ground near her the she-cat lay next to her littermate and started grooming him attentively, purring even though it hurt her throat to do so. "I won't leave you. Let's get you back to our nest." Because they were sharing.
Amberpaw looked back to Gorsetail, dipping her head apologetically. "I'll get to the moss, have to put this mousebrain back to bed."