Hazelfang poked his head into the apprentice's den. Stormpaw sat with Tigerpaw, whisperingly calmly to him. The ginger tom himself was trembling like a leaf. Hazelfang swallowed nervously. "May I have a word with you, Tigerpaw?"
The two apprentices looked up at him. Stormpaw glanced a bit nervously between the warrior and her friend, before bowing her head politely to Hazelfang and slipping out.
"What is it?" Tigerpaw asked, his tail swishing behind him nervously.
Hazelfang shifted on his paws, unsure of whether to appear soft and gentle or strong and reassuring. "Fawnstar has decided for me to become your new mentor."
Tigerpaw nodded and looked down. His whiskers twitched forlornly. "Okay."
"She left it up to whether or not you'd like to have an official second apprentice ceremony," the grey tom murmured. "I don't mean to rush you, but if it's done at all it'll be done by sun-high tomorrow."
The ground seemed very interesting to the apprentice. He didn't answer for several minutes, while Hazelfang watched him intensely. He wondered what the young tom was thinking about.
Nothing cheery, considering.
Finally, Tigerpaw nodded hesitantly. "Alright. Another ceremony."\
Hazelfang sighed, relieved by the ginger tom's decision, though he wasn't sure why. "Alright. I'll go tell Fawnstar.
When Hazelfang found his leader, she had evidently been in the middle of talking with Birchpelt. He quickly motioned to her for a word.
"Yes? Has he decided?"
Hazelfang nodded. "He's decided he'd like a second ceremony."
"Alright," Fawnstar whisked his side with her tail tip. "You two ought start training together as soon as possible. We'll do the ceremony in a few minutes, I just need to finish up talking with Birchpelt."
The grey warrior bowed his head to his leader, who smiled at him. "I think you'll do a fine job. I was hoping he'd choose a ceremony. You deserve to have that for your first apprentice."
Hazelfang grinned. "Isn't the apprentice ceremony supposed to be about, y'know, the apprentice.?"
Fawnstar shook her head fondly. "As someone who herself has an apprentice, I'll tell you it's just as much about the mentor. You're being entrusted with the future of a young cat, and there is incredible responsibility and incredible honor in it."
The tom nodded to her once more and took his leave. He stood in the clearing as night fell over camp, straight-backed and grooming himself self-consciously.
Finally, just when he almost couldn't take the waiting anymore, Fawnstar exited the medicine cat's den, bounding up to the top of the hallow, calling for the clan to meet. Tigerpaw exited the apprentice den while Stormpaw stood beside him, grooming him like a mother might her kit. With a final lick smoothing down an errant piece of fur, she nudged him forward.
When all the cats of the clan had gathered, Fawnstar called Tigerpaw forward.
"Tigerpaw," she said in a strong voice, "Do you swear to uphold the warrior code, the will of StarClan; serve your clan in body, mind, and spirit; and train dutifully towards these aims?"
"Hazelfang," Fawnstar's voice rang out."You have proven yourself a strong and loyal warrior, ready to face any challenge to protect your clanmates, even earning the most honored of names showing your devotion to MoorClan. I trust that you will pass these qualities onto Tigerpaw, bringing out the greatest possible potential from him."
Hazelfang padded over to the young apprentice. Tigerpaw had a new fire burning in his eyes that the grey warrior started at. It was so intense that Hazelfang was shocked at how still he was sitting. Hesistanly, he touched noses with the ginger cat, sending a silent prayer to StarClan.
Give me the strength to guide him in the right direction.
Blossompelt picked herself up off the ground, shaking herself a bit. Thornstar looked at the ground like an ashamed kit. \
"Thornstar, what's going on?"
The leader didn't answer, trembling and staring at his unsheathed claws. Dear StarClan, I attacked a clanmate! One of the cats I've been given the sacred duty of guiding and protecting! I've failed them all..."
"Thornstar, please, talk to me. What's happening?"
The scarred tom looked up at her, a wild fire in his eyes and tail bushed out. "I'm so, so sorry Blossompelt...I-I was... I..."
The red-pink she cat nodded for him to continue.
He hung his head. "It's nothing, Blossompelt. You just startled me."
"Fox dung! All due respect, that was more than just being frightened."
Thornstar's ears flattened. "I... I had a nightmare," he meowed gruffly.
To his surprise, Blossompelt didn't begin to laugh. She didn't even look particularly surprised. Her face was that of patient compassion. She silently padded over to his side and rested her tail tip on his side, stroking it in time with his quick breaths until he calmed down. The brown tom suddenly felt exceedingly silly.
The two cats stood there, side by side, overlooking the lake. Well, Blossompelt watched the lake. Thornstar was in awe of the she cat next to him. Simply put, he was shocked by how effortlessly she exuded calm and kindness.
He gazed at her for longer than he cared to admit, until she bumped her shoulder against his. She jutted her chin towards the horizon, and Thornstar was treated with the sight of the sun coming up, illuminating the lake with splashes of pink, yellow, and orange. Next to him, he heard Blossompelt murmur, "You don't have to be alone all the time, Thornstar. Even you need to rely on your clanmates sometimes."
The leader nodded hesitantly, the again, more firmly, when she smiled at him warmly.