Because this fic HAD to happen.
Miss Quill is very nearly content minding her own business and watching some documentary about American high schools called Mean Girls when her peace is interrupted by the bane of her existence and his pretty boyfriend.
"Ahem," Charlie coughs, to get her attention.
"What is it? Is the world ending?" She asks without looking away from the television screen.
"Then I don't care."
"We got you present," Matteusz chimes in helpfully, and she rolls her eyes before properly processing what he's said.
"Wait, I'm sorry, you what?" She finally turns her head to look at them, and notices that they're both holding cardboard boxes. The smaller one that is in Charlie's hands seems to be moving. "What is in that? Is it going to attack us?"
She's jumped to her feet, and the boys both look amused, but Matteusz especially.
"Not much," he says, with a grin that makes her want to smack him. "Was my idea. I thought you could use a friend."
"A friend?" She repeats, like he's just suggested she grow an extra head for fun. (Internally, her stomach churns with her secret longing for companionship. The mere thought of actually having a friend who gave two shits about her is more appealing than she will ever admit to a living soul.)
Charlie holds out his box as she walks towards them. Upon peering inside, she sees the last thing she was expecting.
A tiny, fluffy, black kitten. She stares at it. It stares back at her and meows softly.
"What the hell am I supposed to do with this?" She asks flatly.
Like her chest hasn't gone all warm just at the sight of the little thing. It's still a valid question, though - Quill theoretically understands what cats are, but less so the function they serve and even less about what one does with one in their custody.
Charlie cracks a small smile. "It's a pet. I believe you're familiar with the concept."
"Right, because I don't have my work cut out for me already with having to babysit five teenagers on a regular basis," Quill retorts, "Why should I add a fluffball not even intelligent enough to communicate to that list?"
"Is very cute," Matteusz says, shrugging.
"And it might actually like you, which would make a change," Charlie adds, and coming from anyone else the words might have almost stung but as it is she just snorts.
"Where did you get it?" Quill realises she has no idea where cats come from, or rather, where their natural habit is or if they are entirely kept creatures.
"The animal shelter," Matteusz says.
Charlie adds, "Her whole family was abandoned, just left on the street. She's the only one that survived, apparently."
"Hmm." Quill reaches into the box and pulls out the kitten, holding it in front of her by its middle. "Well, you and me both, little one." She hesitates and looks up. "How am I supposed to hold it?"
"If she does not like it, she will let you know," Matteusz says with a chuckle, "I'm sure you can work out."
"Helpful," she retorts, as he puts the box down on the dining table, "So what's with the second box? There better not be two of these things."
"Litterbox and cat food."
She has no idea what a litterbox is, but Googling it will be less painful than continuing this conversation, so she just nods. Slowly, she brings the kitten to rest against her chest, finding she can easily hold it with one hand.
"Alright," she says, and when they don't immediately move, adds with a wave of her free hand, "Kitten delivered, you can now retreat to your little love nest."
Quill doesn't pay them another glance, her attention completely on the kitten snuggled against her chest. What the hell just happened? Did I just get saddled with the responsibility of another pathetic lifeform?
It's not even convincing to herself. Cats - or rather, looking at pictures and videos of them on the interpret - have been one of the only things to make living on Earth bearable. And yet somehow, the idea of actually interacting with one in real life had gone completely over her head.
It's even softer than she imagined. And so fucking small. If not for the arn she would have been able to crush it with her hand in an instant but she can't imagine anything she'd want to do less.
"Oh god, now I'm going to have to come up with a name for you, aren't I?"
The kitten meows and paws at her chest, its claws getting caught in the fabric of her blouse. It should be annoying. It isn't.
"You know, you're probably better than a human friend," she says to it absently as she unhooks its claws from the shirt, "They really are immensely stupid. But you're a baby. I can teach you before you get any ideas about already knowing all there is to know, like so many of my students."
When it comes to bedtime, she takes the kitten into her bedroom with her and lets it curl up happily on the edge of her bed.
The sound of its purring lulls Miss Quill to sleep in mere minutes.
Miss Quill wakes up the next morning a good two hours earlier than she normally would because the damned kitten is sat by the door to her bedroom and meowing incessantly.
"Seriously?" She asks it. When it just looks at her and meows again, she gets up to let it out of the room and decides she should probably feed it before it slips her mind.
There's a small bowl in the cardboard box with the bag of food, and she sets it on the floor in the corner of the dining room and pours a healthy measure into it. While it eats, she reads up on litterboxes on her phone and gets that set up as well.
"What am I going to call you, little one?" When, unsurprisingly, the kitten offers no answer, she sighs. "No matter. An appropriate name will reveal itself in time."
She keeps reading up about cat ownership on the internet until she's relatively sure she knows what to do with the one she now apparently owns.
The cat, by some miracle, uses the litterbox without any prompting from her.
"Good, you're showing initiative," Quill tells it. She picks it up and takes it with her to the sofa so that she can curl up and get that extra ninety minutes of sleep she desperately wants.
The kitten settles itself on her chest and starts purring. It's going to be a worthwhile investment in itself if this creature can facilitate her getting to sleep like this on a regular basis.
Quill wakes up to the sound of giggling, and cracks an eye open to see Charlie and Matteusz pointing a phone in her direction.
"What?" She asks with annoyance.
"Just...so cute," Matteusz says, grinning, "Had to get a picture, to capture moment when you looked peaceful."
"Any moment I get that doesn't involve being in the presence of teenagers is peaceful," she snaps, sitting up and dislodging the kitten. It lands on its feet with an agility that impresses her. "Just do me a favour and keep the photo from reaching the eyes of anyone who might wonder why you have a picture of your physics teacher in her pyjamas. These humans do so love to jump to scandalous conclusions."
She leaves them to get dressed. Ten minutes later, leaving the kitten behind to go to Coal Hill is - oddly - almost difficult.
"Oh my god, that picture of you and the kitten is so cute," April says to her at the end of physics class, "What have you called her?"
Just why this girl has suddenly assumed that Quill has any interest in talking to her outside of Bunghole-related excursions, the teacher has no idea.
"She's yet to earn a name," Quill replies, packing up her things without so much as glancing in April's direction, "I'm sure that one of the lovebirds can inform you when the time comes that she does."
"It was a really thoughtful present," April continues, smiling at her, "I think Matteusz wanted to do something for you since you've been so good about him staying with the two of you."
"Well, it's not as though I have any power in my own house. His highness is the one calling the shots, remember?"
"...okay, true, but still."
They both know that April is right. Quill could have easily found a way to make Matteusz miserable, or at least kicked up a fuss about the situation. But she's barely complained at all about the change and their whole Bunghole Defence Squad knows it.
"Why are you still here?" Quill asks her a few moments later when she looks up from her bag and sees that she's still standing there expectantly.
The girl opens her mouth, shuts it again, and walks out without another word.
Miss Quill returns home to find the kitten lazing in the cardboard box she had been given to her in.
"What have you been up to?" She asks it. "Anything interesting?" No reply. "No?" The litterbox needs cleaning out so she tends to that, hearing the boys arrive home as she does so.
A minute later, a yell of horror comes from upstairs and Quill sprints up the steps three at a time, her body ready for whatever creature is responsible for Charlie making the sound.
But there's no creature. There's just torn bedding, fluff everywhere, and bits of paper all over the floor. That and one very put out looking Rhodian prince.
"Oh good, nothing to worry about," she says.
"Nothing to worry about?" Charlie repeats, staring at her. "That little beast trashed my bedroom!"
"That little beast that you brought into this house and therefore automatically accepted any consequences of its presence," Quill replies, starting back down the stairs and smirking at him. "If you have any issues, take it up with her."
"She is cat, she will not understand," Matteusz says, looking worried that they think the cat is capable of communication.
"I'm sure he can find a way."
After two days and more wrecked furniture followed by irritating complaining from Charlie, Quill decides that the easiest way to avoid this problem is to just bring the kitten to school with her. It's tiny and fits in her coat pocket and seems content to stay there and not make any escape attempts while she walks.
She takes a guess that bringing pets to school isn't a thing that is done and so keeps her out of sight from the other teachers. But when the kitten starts climbing out of her pocket while she's writing an equation on the board, the cat is out of the bag. Or in this case, pocket.
"Oh my god," a thirteen year old girl in the front row exclaims. Quill turns around to find herself looking at a classroom of teenagers who have taken one look at her kitten and gone starry eyed over it.
"Why do you have a kitten in your pocket, Miss?" A boy asks.
"I don't know, why don't you ask it?" She replies, going back to writing the equation on the board. By the time she turns back around, the kitten is on a desk and getting scratched behind the ears. "Come on, Bradley, display basic deductive reasoning skills for once in your life."
"I don't think you're allowed to bring pets to school, Miss," another kid actually has the bravery to say.
The girl petting the kitten rolls her eyes. "Shut up, Jake, there's a kitten in our physics class, why are you complaining?"
As the day continues, Miss Quill finds a simple system. The students are perfectly happy to keep quiet about the kitten in regards to other students and teachers so long as they are free to pet the kitten throughout and immediately after the class.
Humans are easily swayed by cute fluffy animals. It's a helpful tactical piece of information that Miss Quill files away for a rainy day.
The last class of the day is the one containing the Bunghole Defence Squad.
"Present for you," Miss Quill says as she dumps the kitten on April's lap. The girl's eyes widen and she looks up at Miss Quill with delight.
"Oh my god," she says, "Thank you! I don't...understand why this is happening, but I'm not complaining!"
"It's simple," Miss Quill tells the class, "You don't tell anybody about the kitten, you get to pet the kitten. Everybody is happy. Got it?"
They all nod.
"She got a name?" Tanya asks, reaching over to pet the kitten.
It's not like she has to worry about the kitten distracting them from the lesson, because they all know that she barely teaches and they barely pay attention and so one kitten isn't going to make it much worse.
Quill amuses herself by simply watching the kitten make its way around the room. It doesn't seem to quite know the use of its own body yet - tentatively reaching its across gaps between the desks it is definitely capable of crossing.
It learns surprisingly quickly. She feels a sense of pride. It's ridiculous and she forces it down, justifying it with an internal promise to train the kitten as well as she can to make it useful in multiple areas.
The kitten loves Matteusz. It rubs against his arm and the other students coo while the boy smiles in a way usually reserved for his boyfriend.
It's when the kitten ends up on Charlie's desk that Miss Quill's day goes from vaguely better than usual to great. The moment the prince reaches out to pat it, the creature tries to bite him. When he tries again, he gets scratched down the arm.
She doesn't bother smothering her chuckle, and he glares at her.
A faint pain goes through her head when the kitten makes another pass at him, so she gets up and scoops the kitten into her arms since it seems that protecting his highness from kitten scratches counts as part of her bodyguard duties.
"I think we're going to get along just fine," she tells it quietly once the students are finally focused on their work and she's free to stroke her fingertips across its dark fur.
Its eyes are so big and blue and she finds herself transfixed by them until it rolls over on the desk and starts trying to attack one of the pencils.
Good hunter instinct. She definitely likes this cat.
It's about five and a half days after the cat's arrival that a scratch covered Charlie comes to Quill when she's busy making coffee after dinner.
"I think you were right," he says to her, taking a deep breath, "The cat was a bad idea. It needs to go."
"And when precisely did I say that?" She asks, arching an eyebrow. "I was unsure of how to proceed initially, but never actually said that it was bad idea or that you should take her back to wherever she came from."
"It hates me," he argues.
"That makes two of us, which is probably why we get along so well."
"There's no way you could be attached to her after less than a week-"
"Don't assume to know anything about the emotions that you automatically assume I don't possess, your highness," she tells him coolly. "And be warned that if you try to touch Orla or remove her from the premises, you won't like the consequences."
He stares at her, clearly annoyed and weighing up whether he can force her to get rid of the cat without it backfiring somehow. She's fairly confident he can't.
"Orla?" He asks instead, after a good half a minute of thinking it over.
"She attacks you, and me if it's early morning, and has all the makings of a fine warrior," Quill says, shrugging, "Who else would I name her for but my sister?" With that, she turns to finish making her coffee and when she turns back he is gone. Satisfied, she sits on the couch, turns on the TV, and Orla soon curls up in her lap.
About twenty minutes later she is vaguely aware of the boys in the kitchen.
"Do you think we should tell her that she can't train a cat to be a warrior?" Matteusz is saying, and Miss Quill snorts at what has to surely be limited human ambition and skill.
She'll prove him wrong. All she and Orla need is time.
I love my kids and my salty freedom fighter wife so much. Miss Quill really needs a friend.
Thanks for reading, let me know what you thought!