Chapter 21; Haru
"Humbert, Humbert wake up," the voice was soft and mellow, and when he opened his eyes, he saw her – the woman who visited him in the night. Her brown hair tumbled around her shoulders and spread out on the fabric of his dressing gown, the only thing she was wearing, again, and her brown eyes shone with a golden light – the very first light of dawn. "I owe you an explanation Humbert, you should be awake to hear it," she said, running her fingers through his orange hair. Her skin was cool, her touch soft.
Humbert made himself sit up, so that he could listen, rather than fall asleep again under her gentle caress.
"Yes, please. Shall I make tea and we can sit?" he suggested. He knew that he was awake this time. It definitely wasn't a dream. It was a conclusion he had been working up to for some time – that this woman was more than just a figment of his imagination.
The woman smiled. "I'd like that," she said, letting him up and watching him put the kettle on in the caravan's tiny kitchen. He even put some crumpets in the toaster and got out the butter and marmalade. She had to resist the urge to walk up behind him and wrap her arms around his neck, forcing herself to stay where she was, sitting on the foot of his bed.
"Milk or lemon with your tea?" Humbert asked, pouring the hot brown liquid into two plain teacups. He'd left the fine china at home, he hadn't thought that it would be needed.
"Milk, thank you," she answered. "I suppose I should start with who I am?" she asked as Humbert added milk and spread the crumpets.
"It's generally regarded as a good beginning," he said, laying out the early breakfast on the bench that served as a kitchen table in the caravan. Humbert pulled up his chair and found another for the lady.
"It's complicated," she said, absently and nervously twining her fingers in her own brown locks as she sat down to the early meal. "I want to thank you Humbert," her words came suddenly. She had wanted to say that for a long time, and she finally had. "For saving my life, for taking me in, for cleaning me, and feeding me, and caring for me." She fixed her large brown eyes on his, nearly crying from saying so quickly all the things she had wanted to say for so long.
Humbert blinked, twice, three times.
"Haru?" he asked quietly, incredulous.
She nodded, and tried to smile. She couldn't remember exactly how it had happened, but there was a time before, before she had been a cat. She had been human then too. Haru wrapped her hands around the cup, letting its warmth seep into her bones – it was still too hot to try drinking.
"I don't understand," Humbert said at last.
"That's alright, you don't have to," Haru answered. "I'm not actually a cat, I just… I don't really understand either, but something happened and I got stuck like a cat. I wandered the streets for ages, and then you found me," she sighed, a smile on her lips as she cast her mind back. "I loved your green eyes, almost from the moment I saw them, and then, when I started turning back into me again, I liked to play with your hair, the way you played with my ears when I was a cat."
"So, who were you? Before you became a cat, I mean," Humbert asked when he had digested what he had just been told. He wasn't touching his tea and crumpets.
"My mother, I don't remember her at all, I think she died, and then my father… I think something bad happened to him, because of his politics or something… I think I have a Godfather though, yes. He was a big man, always dressed in a suit, he and father were always complaining about 'the Commons'. I'm still your Haru, Humbert," she said, reaching across the bench to lay her hand over his, her large brown eyes wanting him to accept her as she was.
Humbert looked at the small pale hand that rested on his larger one, and slipped out from underneath to wrap his hand around her fingers.
"I know, it's just a bit of a shock," he said, no longer completely sure that he wasn't dreaming. Dreams could be very vivid after all – but her hand was smooth, cool, and real. "How did you become human again?"
Haru smiled. "You broke the spell," she said. "You loved me." Haru rose from her seat and leant across the bench. Humbert smelt of sleep and tea and engines, and when she kissed him, he tasted like the feeling of catnapping in a cozy, sunny place. "I love you Humbert," the woman said. She would never turn into a cat again.
A/N: 'the Commons' is meant to refer obliquely to the House of Commons, part of the parliamentary system in Great Britain. Haru's father and Godfather are members of the House of Lords, which makes Haru nobility, what her actual rank is, I'm not sure, but yes, they do live happily ever after.