Chapter 15

"You made me human," Baron said, recognising the picture from the previous day. He could just see the slight differences in colour where Haru must have painted over his cat ears and tail, turning him into a normal person.

"Are you mad with me?" Haru asked tentatively, afraid that he might be.

"No," he seemed a little surprised with the answer himself. Baron had thought that he might be upset to find out that someone had deliberately changed him, but Haru hadn't done it maliciously, she hadn't even done it painfully or with selfish intentions, as far as he knew anyway.

Haru breathed out. She'd been holding her breath.

"Miss Haru," Baron began, stepping back from the painting. He had been peering closely at the work. The new man opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it again with out speaking. He was silent again for a small while before finally saying, "Breakfast, I think," and leaving the room.

Haru nodded; she was still slightly numb with the realisation of what she had done half by accident.

Breakfast past in silence, and Baron cleared away when they had finished.

Haru collected the painting she had been working on – was it only the day before? – and took it once more to the courtyard where Baron and Muta had played cricket. The cricketer, catching the small red ball.

In the natural light she considered the fall of light and shadow and the drape of cloth, and applied what was in her mind to what was set before her.

"Miss Haru, I have to go out for a little while," Baron said, adjusting the top hat on his head carefully, making himself get used to how it must now sit without his ears to hold it in place. "I would feel better about leaving you if you would please stay inside. Toto will make sure you receive no uninvited guests."

"Baron, apart from Muta and the King, I am the only person who has been here in how long?" Haru queried. "Nevertheless," she added, holding up her hands in submission, "I concede." She gathered her paints and went inside.

Baron sighed with relief and woke up Toto. The crow was shocked to find that the once porcelain cat now appeared to be a real human, but agreed to watch over Haru until he returned.

The once cat stepped out of the refuge, and found that, yes, he had grown to the height of a regular human. An inch or two taller than most, even. Not that it would matter, as he would continue living at the refuge, where he was only just taller than most people's knees.

It took him an hour longer than he had thought it would, but at last, he got what he had been searching for, and was able to return to the refuge.

"No one again, Baron," Toto reported, flying up to his perch once more from where he had been guarding the Bureau, on the upper balcony railing.

Baron nodded his thanks and, hand firmly around his purchase, walked into his home.

Haru was reading. She was sitting with her back propped up against the seat of his favourite chair, a thick cushion between her and the shag rug on the floor. She had finished the painting just a very short while ago, and wasn't far into the book, but her imagination was buried deeply in the words, even if her nose was not literally entrenched.

"Oh, hi Baron. How was town?" asked Haru, looking up in surprise from her book. It was one of those things, she had felt that someone was watching, and when she looked up, there he was. The young lady smiled.

"Not as large as last time I was there," he answered, the spell on his door shrinking him back to the size that he was used to. "Miss Haru, I have a proposition to put to you," the ex-cat said, looking down at the loveliness of the lady before him.

"Are you going to sit down? Or will I have to stand up to be on eye level with you while I hear this?" Haru asked, laying aside the book and sliding off her cushion slightly so that she was reclining more as she looked up at the man she had changed.

Baron smiled. Haru smiled back. The smile looked good on his now human face. Oh, it had looked nice when he was a cat too, but cat expressions were harder to read than a person's.

Careful not to tread on either her fingers or his book, Baron slid around behind Haru and sat down in his chair.

"How's that?" he said.

"Odd, and rather indicates that you're up to something, since you're not exactly one for such closeness, by your own admission," Haru answered, tilting her head back to look at him.

"That's true, but I think that I cannot change in body and remain completely the same in every other aspect of myself, so I'm being bold where I am normally more tentative." He tried to stroke Haru's hair, just gently, but her eyes hardened.

"You said you had a proposition?"

"Of marriage, if you will accept me," said Baron, withdrawing the little box from his pocket and offering it to the lady almost in his lap.

Haru didn't say anything. Her brown eyes softened once more, and she took the little box from his hand, opened it, and slipped the contents onto her left ring finger, not even looking at it. Her hand now thus adorned, she reached up to her new fiancee and gently pulled him down until their lips met. Alright, so it was upside down, but it was still a great kiss.