(This story is a sequel to ”Itchleaf”.)
“I'm going to lie down,” Snowfall tiredly said to her lifemate. “Will you join me soon?”
The tribe had full bellies tonight, thanks to Snowfall and the hunt she had led. She and the small party had gone out to fetch just a little meat to supplement the stores and to have something fresh to eat that night, and they had incredible luck. They'd come across a large herd of deer and three large does had fallen to spears and arrows before the chase was through.
Now she was full and tired and, admittedly, wanted nothing more than to lie down in the comfort of her furs with her lifemate. It would be the perfect end to the perfect eve.
“Yes, soon,” True Edge replied. “I'm going to help finish with the kills, and then I'll come to bed, too.”
With that promise in hand, Snowfall ascended to her den in the Father Tree, hastily stripped off leathers that seemed binding and heavy after the long night, slipped in between her bed-furs, and settled down with her back resting against the soft curve of her bed-bowl. Her eyelids quickly grew heavy; she would probably be asleep before True Edge ever returned to the den.
Her calf started to itch — one of those annoying itches that wasn't urgent enough to scratch right away, but annoying enough that it had to be tended to sooner or later lest it keep her awake. Reluctantly, Snowfall reached down to scratch her calf. That felt good. Now that that was tended to, Snowfall curled back up and tried to sleep.
Not a moment had passed until her thigh began to itch, then her other leg... and then her arm, and it didn't stop there. The irritation spread to her belly, chest, and her back, and then up her neck. Her whole body itched!
Sleep was no longer on Snowfall's mind. Eyes wide, she hastily flung her bedfurs aside. A fine cloud of tiny hairs swirled up from her bed. She knew all too well where they had come from — it wasn't the first time someone had dried the little, hairy slivers inside maple seed-pods to be used in such a prank. And now, if she wasn't careful, they'd be all over the den and impossible to get out.
Annoyed, Snowfall scooped up a small armful of her bedfurs to take them outside. She'd have to shake them out well away from any dens, lest others be exposed to the itching powder as well. She nearly ran into True Edge on her way out.
“Get out of the way!” Snowfall snapped.
True Edge looked shocked, but did as he was told and hastily stepped aside. He turned to follow his lifemate as she stormed away. “What's the matter?”
“Itching slivers!” came the reply. “I've got to go beat them out of our furs and take a bath.”
True Edge couldn't help but chuckle. “I'll come with you.”
“No.” Snowfall turned and held up her hand. She didn't want True Edge to get into this, either. She scratched at an itchy spot on her hip. “I know who did this, and I think she can help me instead. I'll be back for the other furs, shortly. Don't touch them until I'm sure the slivers are gone.”
Giggles reached Snowfall's ear before she even got near Finch and Bowflight's den, and they grew louder each time Snowfall scratched another itch.
“All right, Willow,” the huntress called to the giggler who was shadowing her overhead. “Don't you think you've had about enough of laughing at my misfortune for now?”
Another giggle when Snowfall reached around to scratch her back signified that no, the prankster had not.
“When you come help me beat that mess out of my furs, you won't think it's so funny.”
“I will, too!” Willow jumped from down from her perch and landed at Snowfall's side. Her face was red and her eyes were teary from laughing so much, but her face was beaming. “I almost got you and True Edge both! And I did it all by myself! See, and no one got hurt, either!” There was no mistaking the pride in the cub's voice.
Snowfall shook her head. “You're lucky you didn't, because he wouldn't have been anywhere near as forgiving toward you as I am being now.”
That response was rewarded with yet another giggle — Willow was hardly convinced. Snowfall sighed inwardly. She was irritated at this; she was tired and itchy and wanted nothing more than to hurry up and get cleaned up so she could sleep! However, there was a part of her that didn't want to dampen the child's enthusiasm over a well-played, and mostly harmless, prank.
“Come down to the river with me,” she ordered. “You can tend to my bedfurs while I clean up.”
Without hesitating, Willow took Snowfall's furs and headed toward the river at a trot. “Beat you there!” she called back to Snowfall as she ran. Everything was a competition for that cub, wasn't it? At least Willow was owning up to responsibility and cleaning up after her mess. It was a start.
A cloud of fine hairs from the bedfurs trailed behind Willow — best to not follow her too closely. More than likely, the cub would be just as itchy as Snowfall was now by the time she reached the water's edge. Snowfall sighed. That meant she'd more than likely have to help Willow clean up too...
...but at least the cub would get a taste of her own medicine. That brought a slight chuckle to Snowfall's lips as she descended the small hill leading to the riverbank.