It was such a dreary day. She'd brought the kits out earlier to play in the lull between the falling of snow and ice. Now it was snowing again in freezing drizzles, so she'd groomed them all and brought them back to the nest. Under extreme protest. Still, she wasn't risking them getting sick now, especially as cold as it was outside. Her thick gray pelt kept her mostly warm, but she had short fur, and eventually she'd feel the cold on her paws and in her pelt as it soaked through her thick winter coat. So she tidied in the nursery as she could, pushing out various balls of fur from shedding kits and hairballs. As unpleasant a task as it was, someone had to do it and they were her kits.
That only distracted her for a little while, and then she was simply ready to sit and watch the kits play in their nest. She had so much to think about now, as Lionstar had forced her to realize with his visit earlier that day. So, while her ears were on the three kits behind her, her thoughts were miles away. What would her beloved mate have said in this situation? Bramblebrush had known everything about the world, he'd taught her what little of this Code she knew and agreed with. He would have loved it here, and if she were honest? He'd have told her to give it her best. If she didn't like it, then she could always leave, go back to being a loner and avoid the clans for the rest of her life.
Rowanberry's coarse fur stuck out ridiculously in an effort to combat the cold, near-freezing rain that kept sporadically dropping down on the small patrol. The rest of the patrol didn't look much better. Silverwisp was openly shivering, Swallowflight's tail lashed rather angrily, and Fernpaw was practically latched onto Rowanberry's side, seeking her warmth. The only one who didn't seem affected was Nobleheart, though that was probably only pride keeping him from showing any adverse reactions.
As they finished marking the outer edge of the open woods, making the border strong enough for LightningClan to notice, Rowanberry caught sight of something waving in the breeze. She stepped closer, realizing it was a couple of large feathers, trapped beneath the root of a tree. They were both brown, with shiny golden-colored stripes running across the length of them, and in surprisingly pristine condition despite the environment. Immediately, she wanted the feathers for herself, but then she thought of the kits in the nursery. Gently, she pulled the two feathers from their place, looking up to see another nearby. She plucked that one as well, lifting her head just as Nobleheart announced it was time to return.
With her prizes clutched carefully in her jaw, she followed, feeling her apprentice tuck into her side again. Fernpaw was unusually subdued, more than likely due to the cold. Rowanberry stopped, lowering the feathers to the ground before turning to her apprentice. "When we get back to camp, get some fresh-kill and go warm up in your den. You can have the rest of the day off." Fernpaw seemed grateful and Rowanberry gave her a warm smile before picking up the feathers again and rejoining the group. When they returned to camp, the patrol split, and Rowanberry watched to make sure her apprentice followed her orders before heading off to the nursery.
She paused just outside the den to shake off a little of the water from her fur. She ducked inside, feathers dangling from her jaw. She looked from nest to nest, smiling softly as the kits played amongst themselves. She eased closer, dropping one feather near Silentsong's nest and another at Mockingbird's, watching was each queen's kits pounced immediately. She then turned to Moonfeather's nest, waving the feather around to catch their attention. She dropped the feather into their nest, smiling as the kits tumbled over each other to get to it.
Rowanberry turned and looked at Moonfeather, her smile fading. "Oh...I'm sorry, I should have asked first..." She ducked her head and glanced away, worried Moonfeather would get angry at her for giving her kits a toy without permission. She was older than the queen, but they hadn't exactly gotten off on the right paw, and Rowanberry had never really had the chance to try to rectify that.
Figuring now was as good a time as any, Rowanberry loosened her tongue and let the words flow unheeded. "I'm sorry about the things I said to you that day in the meadow, and I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to apologize sooner. I didn't mean you any harm, and I really didn't intend to scare you. Sometimes I talk without thinking and only realize later that I can't take the words back. I swear I would never hurt you or your kits, and I wouldn't let anyone else hurt you all either." She kept her gaze lowered as her words trailed off, the fur on her spine raised slightly in unease. She sat there quietly, waiting to face whatever wrath Moonfeather might bestow upon her.
She was startled, not by the she-cat that had come up near her, but by the happy squeals from her kits. Where had that feather come from? She blinked and did a quick look around, noticing that all the litters in the nursery had a feather to play with. That was when she noticed Rowanberry and green eyes narrowed for a moment before blinking.
"Its a toy for the kits, why would I have a problem with it?" And who was this she cat exactly? She had the feeling she knew her, or had at least met her, but couldn't place her at first. So many new faces in a short frame of time had left her grasping for a name more often than not. Though now she'd been here for some time she still wasn't good with everyone's names.
Then the she-cat mentioned the meadow and she finally remembered her. "Thank you, but why are you still worried about that? I was barely surviving out there, with my kits, and even I can acknowledge that I was high strung and unreasonable. You meant no harm, and I have long since moved on from it." She lifted a paw when Amberkit rolled right out of the nest into her legs, batting the kit gently back the way she came. The she-kit giggled and ran back the way she'd come, tail sticking straight up and jump-running all the way.
She gave the babbling she-cat a smile and curled her tail back around her paws. "We would have starved out there." She could admit that to another adult, if not to her kits. "I don't hunt well enough to have made leafbare in the forest. I managed on my own, but prey was getting scarce and what I could find was crafty." She chuckled, watching the kits play. "I still can't catch birds."