the little boy in the grass ─ beesong



٨ He's watched the clan cats return for their dead, has watched them form great mounds across the former battlefield while others they dragged away for burial elsewhere, he assumes.

One of the graves belongs to his grandfather, though he knows that he wasn't familiar to any of the people who must have interred him in the earth. They were street cats, he and his grandfather, and when news rapidly spread of the marsh cats' attack, he had looked at Mandrake for a long time before telling him to stay, that he would be back soon. Neither of them were among Rain's people, but his grandfather said it was important that they do the right thing. It was important enough to leave Mandrake for, and important enough that he broke his promise to come back.

Mandrake had waited for days because, as grandfather liked to say, he was a well-disciplined boy. It was only when he heard other street wanderers idly mentioning the aftermath of the battle that he made his way here, willing to risk his grandfather's disappointment if it meant knowing he'd simply...gotten waylaid by something. But no: he has gone to Mandrake's parents, and now he is alone, surviving off of scraps left by birds and occasionally catching a mouse off-guard.

Here, at least, is a little warmer than the cold, hard concrete and asphalt of alleyways. He's dug himself a small hole near his grandfather's mound, just deep enough to lie in, and he rests there now, curled up with his head on his paws.

Others might not want to venture to the graveyard where the fallen soldiers lay. But Beesong is a visitor that wanders beneath the four oaks often, mourning the lost and singing to them as if it's a lullaby to send children to sleep with. He makes sure that their graves are well-kept, removing the weeds that threaten to overtake them and tossing the wilted flowers. And it is a job that the medicine cat typically does alone, with only the creaking of the branches in the wind to keep him company.

But, today, there is another. A small boy, half-hidden in a small hollow near a mound. The soft hum that reverberates in Beesong's throat falters, one paw raised mid-step as they stare at the child. Then, their gaze rakes over the clearing, nose twitching... Alone, they conclude after a minute. The boy is alone. "Hey," they greet, and their paws begin to move again, this time in the direction of the kid. "No parents?" It's blunt, but Beesong blinks kindly down at him as they stop in front of the little hole that's been dug.
  • Like
Reactions: mandrake
٨ It's quiet until it isn't. There's an odd...sound he can't explain, almost like birdsong but with a different structure and rhythm. He lifts his head, ears cautiously perked, and it's only when he sees the stranger with a few weed-leaves caught in the fur of their legs that he realizes it was a person making those noises. He is missing broad patches of fur on his face, and Mandrake has seen scars before, but none like these. They must have hurt, and he wonders if maybe they still hurt.

Even though they don't tower the way other strangers have, he feels so small, staring up at them from his little trench. The only reason Mandrake doesn't retreat is the patient, mellow warmth in his face, safer than callous, hardened eyes he'd avoid behind grandfather's legs.

"No. Just Grandfather, but he's—" His throat tightens and he blinks rapidly, trying not to cry because he has to be brave, but he's not very good at it. His cheeks heat and he ducks his head to wipe them on the back of his paw. "What was that sound? Did the birds teach you?" Mandrake cringes as soon as he asks. That's a stupid question, and he should leave because he's certain that must be why they've approached him at all. He's probably in the way of what he was doing.