It is I, Jjah-Jjah!
Muahahahahahaha! I started a category! I rock! Come on kids, there has to be someone else out there who loves the heck out of this movie! I guess you could put Whisper of the Heart fan fiction in here too… Wish I had thought of that when I made the request, but oh well… And now the category that is The Cat Returns must thrive and grow strong!
The Cat Returns fans of the world UNITE!
And now, without further ado, my first The Cat Returns story!
Disclaimer: I am the GREAT Renaldo Moon and if the lawyers come after me, I'll eat everything! Well… Proabably not everything, since I don't own anything… But I'll eat a lot of someone else's stuff, so watch out! Oooh. Cheesecake. Buh-Bye.
He's So Cool!
She had heard of him, what girl hadn't? Prince Lune was the most talked about cat in the whole of Cat Kingdom. His beauty, his poise, was said to be unparalleled. She hadn't really believed it…
But now she did.
She had started working at the castle a full three months before, but she had never seen him. Apparently he left to go do one princely thing or another only a few days before she arrived. She had been unenthused when his welcome home banquet was announced. Coming from a humble background herself, she had never been one to be impressed by richness and wealth. She had not expected to be affected by the Prince at all.
But here she was standing in the doorway, frozen like an idiot, holding a platter of sesame stir-fried mice, eyes wide, and mouth open. He was gorgeous! None of the gossip had done him the slightest justice!
Prince Lune was seated at the main table that the King usually sat at. The King himself was, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on the point of view, absent. The King's Advisor, Natori, had come earlier to announce that the King wasn't feeling well and would not be coming. She wasn't sure of the details, but considering that the head chef had been tossed out the window a few hours earlier, she assumed it was something he ate.
The whole atmosphere of the court was different with the King gone. She couldn't quite place her paw on what the difference was, but it was tangible. Everyone seemed more relaxed; it was not as intimidating as it was before.
Prince Lune laughed. That alone brought her musing back to him. His laugh was a sloughing purr that ended with a Cheshire smile. He was in graceful repose, one hind leg crossed over the other, his chin resting on silken paw as he listened intently to one of the lords from the Egyptian table as he talked about something or another. Apparently the Prince did not adhere to his father's no-conversations-between-tables rule.
He was a walking contradiction; he looked so much like his father, yet he didn't. They shared the same coat color, both gray, but the Prince's was a full shade darker. Where his father was a longhair, he was a shorthair. Where his father was large, he was svelte, almost exotic looking. Perhaps the Queen had been a Siamese?
"Yuki! Get moving!" She jumped slightly as her reverie was broken by the hissing of one of the other serving maids. She blushed, embarrassed. How long had she been standing there, anyway? "Go put that on the Royal Table and go back to get your next dish! Be quick about it!" Wait a minute! She had to go up to his table? How in the world was she supposed to do that without making a total fool of herself?
"Aww. Don't give her such a hard time. After all, she's never served Prince Lune before…" The words may have been encouraging, but the voice was not. In a moment, the air behind her had shattered into soft catty giggles. She hadn't known she had drawn an audience…
A small troupe of maids stood behind her, laughing behind their trays and their paws. Her gawking must have made quite the scene. Immediately her blush deepened under her humiliation. The one who had spoken, Miyu, let her face break out into a taunting grin. "Ogling the Prince there, were you Snow Puff? Try not to spill anything on him..." The crowd dispersed to do their respective duties.
Yuki sighed and blinked sadly. She wasn't sure quite why so many of the other maids didn't like her. Maybe it was because she had once been a stray and they considered her below them for it. It didn't matter. As long as she did her job well, she could keep her little house on the outskirts of the palace. It was the first home she had ever had and she would not lose it… With that sobering thought in mind, she started towards the Prince's table with short confident steps. She would walk over, set the tray down, curtsey, and walk away. It was as simple as that. It didn't matter how handsome he was; she would lower her eyes and not look at him.
It might have worked, had as she had been bending down with the tray, something warm and furry had not knocked her off balance. She fell forward with a yip and the contents of her tray went flying. The dining room fell utterly silent.
She landed with her face against the tablecloth, eyes scrunched shut. She would have fallen to the floor had she not caught onto the tabletop as she fell. She couldn't move she couldn't open her eyes. The only sound that permeated the quiet was the steady dripping that came from just beside her. But time could not stand still forever. Slowly, ever so slowly, she forced her eyes open and looked up at the Prince of Cats.
Under any other circumstances she might have laughed. He looked completely stunned, maybe even more so than she. There was one sesame stir-fried mouse draped between his ears like some sort of absurd hat, another was in his lap, and sauce was dripping from everything, including his whiskers. He blinked at her, such wonderful eyes! They were different colors, just as his father's were, but where they made the King look crazed, they made the Prince look feral. There was a long moment in which they looked at each other dead in the eyes. Then Yuki reacted as if she had been kicked in the gut and instinctively crouched over into a groveling bow.
As if a switch had been turned, the room sprang from silence to mayhem. Accusations and exclamations of horror sprung up like weeds. "Please. I didn't mean to… I'm sorry. I'm sorry…" She could barely hear her own pleading voice above the uproar. She pressed her forehead to the floor as hard as she could, trying in vain to drown out the sounds. Surely she they wouldn't let her stay now. She would lose her job, her home, the fragile life she had built for herself.
The tinkling of laughter found its way into her tormented consciousness. Without moving her head, her gaze turned towards the sound. There stood Miyu, a delicately striped paw covering her mouth as she laughed. 'I was tripped!' Blue eyes widened slightly at the revelation. Yet there was nothing she could do. It was she who spilled food on the Prince and obviously no one had seen that she was tripped considering the cry being raised up against her.
It was hopeless.
She felt one of the guards pick her up by the scruff of her neck. Her paws dangled an inch above the floor. They were all yelling at her; it was blending together. "How dare you?" "Look what you've done to the Prince!" "Clumsy, empty-headed, inept…" She closed her eyes and tensed her muscles in preparation for whatever they were going to do to her.
It was one word spoken by only one voice, but immediately quiet descended once again. Yuki opened her eyes and went limp with shock. There stood Prince Lune, every inch of him a shining example of dignified commanding royalty, even if he was covered in sesame sauce. She noticed numbly that the mice no longer adorned him. His condescending bi-colored gaze was fixed on everyone at once, except her…
"Put her down." Yuki was released so quickly that she had no time to steady herself and fell to the floor in a boneless heap. She didn't move. What just happened? "This was obviously an accident and I personally do not see how punishing this maid for circumstances beyond her control is going to make me any cleaner." He walked over to her, kneeled, and looked down into confused blue eyes.
"You aren't going to do anything like that again, are you?" He smiled, as if amused.
"N-no, sir… No, your Highness!" She stuttered, keeping her eyes low.
"Well then, I don't see a problem."
And just like that, everything was back to normal. Everyone went back to chattering amiably, the clattering of cutlery and dishes resumed, the other maids began serving again. Yuki barely heard the Prince, her savior, excuse himself to go change his dinner jacket. Miyu looked cross. Suddenly she just had to get away. It didn't matter that she still had a job to do; she just couldn't stand being in the room any more.
With a speed and agility borne of repressed panic, Yuki ran out of the dining room on all fours. No one tried to stop her.
She ran till her paws hurt and then collapsed in a room of many pillars. She pressed her cheek to the fish-patterned column that she was closest to and trembled. That was the closest call that she had had in a long time. It was not something that she would be able to get over easily.
She wasn't sure how long she stayed that way, but eventually the trembling subsided and she regained control of her mental faculties. She would go home, come back in the morning in time to serve breakfast, and act as if nothing had happened. Simple, yes? Did she have a chance of pulling it off? No. There was no way that the other serving maids would let her forget. The incident was going to be rubbed in her face till the end of time. She could hear Miyu now…
Wait a minute, she really could…
"Where did she go? I swear, when I find her I'm going to scratch her pretty little eyes out!"
"Are you sure this is such a good idea Miyu?" There was someone else with her.
"Yeah, I mean, what did she ever do to you anyway?" Two others.
Even as Yuki deduced this, the shadows of three figures walked down the wall leading up to the entrance of the room she was hiding in. She wouldn't let herself be found. As fast as she could, she rocketed to the doorway at the other end of the room. She wasn't sure exactly where she was, but she didn't care. She just wanted some peace and quiet before her life became any more difficult. She made it through just as she saw the other three enter out of the corner of her eye. She leaned against the wall to catch her breath for a moment, keeping an ear out for her pursuers. She heard them getting closer, and bolted once again…
Only to run into something tall and soft. She teetered slightly at the impact and warm arms encircled her to hold her steady. "Sorry…" She whispered out of instinct and looked up into the red-green, smiling gaze of Prince Lune.
"Haven't you said that word enough for today?" There was no indication that he had been splattered with anything. He was wearing a fresh dark green dinner jacket that matched one of his eyes and his fur shone as if it had been glossed. "By the way, what are you…"
"Look! I found her cap! She's been through here!"
Yuki jumped out of the Prince's arms at the exclamation and ran her paws over her head. The frilly maid's cap that was her uniform was indeed gone.
"Good job. The only place she could have gone is through that doorway over there. Here, Snow Puff! Come to Miyu so she can mess up that pretty white fur of yours…"
Yuki looked over her shoulder and then back at the Prince, but before she could think of anything to say, the Prince of Cats seized her by the shoulders and propelled them both into a nearby alcove concealed by a red curtain.
The alcove was small, barely big enough for the two of them. There was a little niche in the wall, so Yuki surmised the curtain was to conceal some kind of art or artifact on display from view. The Prince was holding her in his arms again, holding her close so that they would both fit in the little space. He brought a silken paw to his lips for a moment, indicating silence. Yuki nodded and they both listened to the conversation that took place as the three maid cats passed their hiding place by.
"Where did she get off to?"
"She has to be somewhere close."
"You know, we might get in trouble wandering this far into the castle."
"Castle-schmasle. I don't care, as long as we find her."
"You never did answer me when I asked you why you don't like her."
"You have to ask!"
"Well, yeah. Knocking her into Prince Lune was a bit much in any case…"
"I just can't stand her! She's so stuck up; can't lower her pretty little self to talk to anyone. She acts all high and mighty, when you know what I've heard? She's just an un-pedigreed stray! She doesn't have any right…" Miyu's voice faded as she and the others rounded a corner and went out of hearing distance.
The two cats stayed concealed behind the curtain what was most likely a bit longer than necessary before the Prince poked his head out to see if the coast was clear and lead Yuki back into the open hallway.
He had helped her. She had no idea what to think. It was then that he opened his mouth and said the last thing she would have thought.
"I suppose being unpopular is not what I imagined it to be…"
"What?" He smiled at her confused expression.
"I've always wondered what it would be like to not be who I am. What it would be like to be left alone, and not have everyone make such a fuss over me. But I suppose it was just wishful thinking. No one has a perfect life, no matter who they are."
"I suppose so." Yuki answered, looking him in the eyes deliberately for the first time. "I've never really thought about it before… Thank you for helping me, Prince Lune."
"You're welcome." He took a step towards her and offered his arm. Yuki's breath caught in her throat. Hesitantly she rested her paw on the crook of his elbow. "I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage. You know my name, but I don't know yours."
"Yuki. My name is Yuki…" She looked away from him as they began to walk down the hall; the opposite direction the others had taken.
"Well, Yuki… Why is it that I haven't seen you before dinner tonight?"
"I only just started working here after you went on your…trip, your Highness." He frowned; she could feel it without looking at him.
"Don't call me that. You may just call me Lune… No one else does…" She looked at him and saw that his frown had deepened and he was no longer looking at her, but at some fixed point out in space. She wondered if he had even meant to say that last part out loud.
"Lune." She said his name out loud, experimentally to see his reaction. He looked at her startled, his mouth slightly agape. It didn't look like he had expected her to take his request seriously. Suddenly his face broke out into a startling grin.
"Yuki, would you do me the honor of walking with me, so that I don't have to go back to dinner and play host?" He looked so hopeful, so excited, that she couldn't have found it in her heart to refuse him if she tried.
And so they walked, Yuki had no idea how long. They talked about so many different things, that she didn't even remember half of them afterwards. But there was one thing she learned during their conversation that she never would have guessed… Lune was actually a very nice person. Not only that, he was starved for companionship. His father, the members of the court, they were not enough. He had never really been allowed to be himself. It was a shame. After her walk, he saw her out of the castle, not daring to leave lest he draw attention. He waved, as she headed back towards her home through the cattails.
It had not been such a bad day after all…
The next day when she went to work, she half expected the whole experience to be nothing but a dream. However, that belief was shattered when a particularly chatty fellow serving maid, sidled over and began to speak.
"Yuki! Did you hear? Miyu and a bunch of the others were fired today!" Yuki nearly dropped her platter of catnip waffles.
"They came into work this morning, and they were told that they'd been discharged! I think they may have been transferred to work in another part of the castle, but still. Can you imagine?" They both made their way into the dining room; Yuki was pleased. Not a single person mentioned the fiasco the day before. She approached the Royal Table. The King was back, eating something rather messily and talking to his son. Yuki set down the platter without incident, curtsied, and as she was turning to leave, she caught Lune's gaze. The Prince of Cats gave her a long, slow wink. Yuki blushed and retreated.
She met the serving maid she had been speaking with earlier as they made their way back to the kitchen. "So what do you think of Prince Lune? Think he's worth all the talk?"
Yuki stopped for a moment, and looked over her shoulder, her blush retuning… "He's so cool…"
Please R&R! And write fan fiction for this category! Bye kids, I love you all! I have to go write more stuff!