Chapter 1; Next Generation

"Mummy, what is that kitty trying to do?"

Haru looked, following the line of her son's finger, and saw a sleek grey cat with white tips on her ears and a gold collar looking up and down the street. She gasped.

"Grab her quickly," she instructed her little boy, urgency in her voice. Perhaps this would be bad parenting, but Haru was a single mother. Her first boyfriend had gotten himself drunk; then he'd beaten and raped her. Her patella, or kneecap, had been shattered during the incident, and now she needed a walking stick. If she were not so inhibited, Haru would have grabbed up the cat herself, just as she had all those years ago.

Her nine-year-old snatched the young tabby by the scruff of her neck just as the car whizzed past, and brought the cat back to his mother.

"Here she is Mummy," he said, cradling the young cat in his arms.

Haru sighed, sat down on a bench and motioned for her little boy to climb up next to her. Taking the young cat, the young woman recognised the mismatched eyes of the royal line, and shook her head.

"You would think Lune would teach his children to be more careful on human roads," she murmured, checking the tabby over to make sure she was all right. Finding not a scratch on her, Haru turned to congratulate her boy.

"Why is the kitty so special Mummy?" he asked.

"She just is, but I tell you what, if you have a funny dream tonight about a lot of cats, I'll explain in the morning. Come on, let's get this little one safely across the road," Haru said, settling the cat in one arm and taking hold of her son's hand.

The cat, not really much more than a kitten, was stunned by what had just happened, but seemed to recover when the woman put her down on the other side of the street she had been about to cross.

"For next time," Haru said, meeting her brown eyes with the felines red and blue ones. "Cross at the crossing lights with all the people, then you won't get run over."

"Thank you," said the cat, standing up and bowing. "I don't know how to thank you and your son for what you did for me today," she added.

"That's alright," Haru said, holding her little boy close and leaning on her walking stick. "Now go on, I'm sure everyone at home is very worried about you."

The cat bowed again and ran off.

"The kitty talked Mummy, and you talked back!" said her son, his big hazel eyes even bigger with wonder and surprise.

"Yes Muta," Haru said, smiling fondly down at the little boy she had named after her favourite fat cat. Perhaps it was strange, naming a child after an overweight feline, but when she first saw him, he had reminded her so much of the old grouch that she couldn't help it.

He wouldn't talk about anything else for the rest of the day, bouncing everywhere and exhausting his mother. The child still hadn't calmed down when they got home that night and Haru was combing his black hair for him while he brushed his teeth before bed.

"Muta, you must sleep now," Haru said, tucking her son into his bed. "I know you had an exciting day, saving a talking cat from being hit by a car, but if you want to have any energy tomorrow, you have to sleep now."

"Tell me a story first?" he asked, snuggling down and beginning to feel the effects of a very busy day.

Haru sighed and sat down near his feet. He wasn't a very long child yet, so from there she could still reach up and cup his slightly chubby cheek in her hand.

"Alright," she said, giving in – though she enjoyed telling bedtime stories as much as little Muta enjoyed hearing them.