The soft rustling of leaves woke his every instinct. He placed his paw carefully in the grass, careful not to alert anything.
The hooting of owl made his ears stick up, listening for any danger ahead. A white paw rustled the ferns, and, knowing his sneaking would not do him any more good, the cat crouched, barely breathing, sinking low and low until his belly touched the soft, muddy ground under the wide patch of bracken.
"I got you," purred a voice in Reedkit's ear.
Reedkit glanced at Tawnyclaw. "Aw," he whined. "I almost got you!"
"But you didn't," scolded his father, his tawny pelt bristling. His amber eyes gleamed in the night, and Reedkit felt proud this cat was his father. "Now, go back to the nursery."
"Not fair!" muttered Reedkit, hanging by his scruff.
"It is so fair," replied Tawnyclaw, amusement to be found easily in his tone.
"No, it's not," Reedkit protested, squirming. "Sunpaw and Sparrowpaw are apprentices!"
"They were born four moons before you," replied Tawnyclaw. "That is the only and single reason they are apprentices, and were, for one and a half moon and you, still have two and a half moons left."
Reedkit slumped. "So not true," he whispered. "There aren't any kits for me to play with!"
"There's Creamkit and Honeykit."
"They don't understand me," replied Reedkit.
"Then you're too brilliant for them," replied Tawnyclaw.
"Now go to sleep." Tawnyclaw stopped, and laid Reedkit down gently.
I totally won't, Reedkit thought, scrunching up his face. Tawnyclaw left quickly, and, with moonlight shining into the nursery, Reedkit cautiously padded to Mistshade's nest. Trembling, he tucked himself in the moss-covered nest, and curled next to his mother.
Mistshade twitched, but that was all.
There was no nest more mossier, softer, and warmer than this one.
Reedkit shuffled in his sleep. Sunlight seemed to be grazing his eyes, and a soft giggle was what woke him.
The giggle was made right by his ear. "Creamkit," he growled, struggling onto his paws.
A cream colored she-cat with bright blue eyes was sitting next to him, purring with amusement.
"Hi," she purred. "It's my day!"
"What day?" asked Reedkit gruffly.
Creamkit opened her mouth to reply, but was interrupted by a high-pitched shriek.
A golden tabby she-kit was lying in the far corner of the nursery, wailing. Her amber eyes jerked open.
"No!" she screeched. "My apprentice ceremony was interrupted by badgers, and Silverstar just died!"
"What..." Reedkit stared at Honeykit in horror.
"Don't mind her," mewed Creamkit, looking bored. "She does that every night."
"Why didn't I hear her, then?"
Creamkit snickered, her blue eyes twinkling. "You sleep through everything, Reedkit," she told him. "Mind you, you'd sleep through a badger attack! Even when it's about to kill you."
"So not true," retorted Reedkit.
"Yes true," answered Creamkit. "As I was saying," she began again, clearing her throat, and lifting her chin haughtily, "Honeykit and I are being apprenticed today."
Reedkit's jaw fell.
"Yes, true!" Creamkit purred, bouncing around. "I've been itching to tell you."
Reedkit slumped in his nest, and pointedly turned away from her.
"What is it?" meowed Creamkit impatiently. She sounded suddenly so apprentice-like.
"You wake up too early," snapped Reedkit. "It's not my fault I want to sleep."
The feisty Creamkit said nothing. When Reedkit looked back, he could see the she-kit was curled up in her own, soft, comfortable moss-lined nest. Hmph. Sorry.
Mistshade glanced at Reedkit. "Are you sure?" she meowed briskly. "It's your friend's ceremony."
"No thank you," snapped Reedkit.
Mistshade shrugged. "I'm going," she told him, and padded off.
A few seconds later, more pawsteps were heard and Lynxpaw's voice asked, "Creamkit and Honeykit's ceremony, Reedkit. They're your friends."
Lynxpaw huffed. "Fine, then." She stalked away, and Reedkit rested his head on his white paws.
But curiosity eventually got better of the small silver tabby kit. He crawled to the opening, and peeked outside. He could see Creamkit and Honeykit standing proudly, with Silverstar.
"From this day forward, until she has earned her warrior name, this apprentice will be called Creampaw. Stormsky, you have proved yourself as an honorary, loyal warrior. I will trust you to teach Creampaw well."
Eyes shining, Creampaw leaned forward to touch noses with her newly named mentor.
The gray she-cat's blue eyes were bright as well as she met noses with Creampaw.
"From this day forward," repeated Silverstar, gazing down at Honeykit, "until she has earned her warrior name, this apprentice will be called Honeypaw. Acornsquirrel, you are young, but you have gone through grief and happiness, and I trust you will make a fine mentor for Honeypaw."
Acornsquirrel's brown eyes were shining and Honeypaw's amber eyes were, too.
Jealousy sprouting in his heart, Reedkit squirmed back, and tried to rest. He was alone in the nursery, with only Mistshade and the some other expectant queens.