This story was spawned from too many pieces of cake and carbonated beverages. So... blame the sugar, not me.
Disclaimer: Props to TSE!! (And Al Dubs, I guess...)
His eyes were slits and his nose was closed to the foul odor in front of him. He circled around the two, once… twice… his growl growing in his throat with each turn. He could feel it clawing at his vocal chords, biting at the ropes that confined it. He could feel it longing to break free to develop into a proper roar.
He restrained that tempting joy with difficulty, breathing slowly and steadily. He let his body expand on the inhale, his stature overcompensating for the roar that still fought inside his throat.
The larger of the two cats was breathing irregularly, her fear pasted clearly on her face. The smaller was a mere kitten, only days old. This tiny little queen, eyes still gummed shut, hadn't a clue as to the danger she was in.
"Mephistopheles," Macavity barked suddenly, his voice gruff and hoarse. He turned an attentive head towards the entrance to his lair, waiting expectantly.
Another kitten, just entering his thirteenth moon, entered mere seconds after Macavity's command. His eyes were confused, his mouth twitching as if he was unsure if he was permitted to smile in Macavity's presence. This little kitten, who had always been disappointingly small for his age (he had been the runt of the litter, his brothers passing him easily in size), shuffled to Macavity's side, the queen on the ground hidden by the older tom's ginger body.
"Yes, Hidden Paw?" The tom bowed his head respectfully, his little nose touching the ground as he did so.
"It is time for a lesson," Macavity turned his attention back onto the queen, the growl back in his throat. Mephistopheles, his son, peered around his leg at the queen and her kitten.
"Mother!" he cried, bounding forward with all formalities forgotten. He did not notice the small white kitten nestled by her stomach and buried his head into her neck. The queen remained stiff and unmoving, held still by Macavity's mind.
"Mother?" Mephistopheles stopped his affectionate nuzzle and backed up a few paces to look at the queen properly. He turned his head to meet the Hidden Paw's eyes, puzzled. "What's wrong with her?"
"She has been disobedient," Macavity reached out with one stick-thin arm and drew Mephistopheles back so the little tom was sitting neatly between his paws. The tuxedo kitten began trembling, for, young as he was, he knew what happened to those that did not heed Macavity's orders.
"But Mother could never do anything wrong," Mephistopheles protested, turning a pleading face up to look Macavity in the eyes.
"Your mother," Macavity's voice rose in volume and he began pacing between the tuxedo kitten and the tuxedo queen, "my mate, a queen all have been taught to look to as leader in my place, has betrayed us. Mephistopheles, my son, do you understand what this means?" He turned slit-like eyes back onto the still trembling kitten.
"Jellicles," was all Mephistopheles said, but it was enough. He understood.
"Correct," Macavity's voice was losing its control, his tongue unable to wrap itself around the syllables properly. A low growl escaped from his lips. He walked around behind the still unmoving queen and bent his head low next to hers.
"Tell us your story, my dear," he ordered, swiftly removing the white kitten from the mother's side. "And do not leave out a single detail, for if you do, this cute little queen must suffer like the rest of them."
Carrying the kitten in his teeth, Macavity walked around the queen again, depositing the kitten by Mephistopheles's feet. His son did not seem to understand what he was meant to do, and remained still, staring at his mother with unblinking eyes. Macavity chose a spot beside Mephistopheles and came to a halt, his eyes boring into the queen as she began speaking.
"You can't go back there, not again," Coristo had a paw resting on her upper thigh, gently tracing circles with his claw. His milky white fur was shining softly in the sun, contrasting with the dominant black of her coat.
"I have to," she murmured, turning her head slowly so as to not look at him. Her body shifted, conveniently making his paw drop from her leg to the ground. He answered by moving closer to her, pressing his body against hers.
"Celesta, please," his tone was soft and gentle, but had an unmistakable note of urgency laced within it. "How long do you think you can keep this going? You're already expecting another litter. If they're not his…"
"Then it will be the greatest gift we have been given," Celesta finished for him, still looking determinedly away from him. Then, frowning, she turned back to look at him, backing away so he could not reach her. "Are you saying that you would rather have me give that… that monster another litter? You would rather have me give him more young minds to brainwash? Coristo, you can't possibly want him to be the father." She laid a paw over her swollen stomach, searching his face for reassurance.
"I would rather have you give birth to his litter if it keeps you safe," the white tom's eyes were unblinking, looking directy into hers.
"You would have me go through all that again," her voice was hushed. "You would have me put my body, my mind, through all that once more." She sat up, closing her eyes. "You don't understand, Coristo, what that was like. Knowing that my kittens, the little kittens that I carried, were going to be taken away from me by a tom that I hate." Her watery eyes opened, boring into Coristo's face.
"I gave him his successor," she said as the tom beckoned her closer. "I gave him all he wanted from me. You can't possibly understand how much I hated myself for that, how much I hated a little kitten – my little kitten – before I had even laid eyes on the poor thing." She allowed herself to disappear into his warm arms, his soft fur tickling her chin.
"I'm not going to tell you that I know or understand, Celesta," he began speaking in a soft voice, his words comforting her. "I can't possibly begin to understand. I can only tell you that I want nothing more than for you to be safe. I want to live to see the day when you no longer have to return to him out of fear. I want to see him taken down."
"There will never be a Jellicle powerful enough," Celesta told his fur, nuzzling her face deeper into his chest, smelling grass and rain water.
Coristo did not answer, and instead lowered himself slowly to the ground, stretched out on his back. Celesta's body fell with his, her heavy breathing pushing against his side. He stroked her back with careful paws, trying to calm her.
"There is more than one kind of magic, Celesta," he told her. "Never forget that."
Macavity's henchcats were in a panic. They skittered around the lair, fumbling with their paws when his frowning gaze fell on them.
The queen on the ground beneath him was wavering in and out of consciousness, the pain of labor having taken its toll on her before its completion. Her fur was sticky with sweat and Macavity could feel her anxiety was much higher than it had been all those moons ago when she had given him a thaumaturgist.
A mate would, by tradition, stay seated next to his mate as she delivered his kittens, speaking encouraging words softly in her ear. Macavity, however, remained silent, observing the queen with fierce, inspecting eyes.
This time, he had reason to doubt that the queen would be giving him another litter.
Soft moans were escaping from her lips, her eyelids fluttering. Her limbs writhed in pain, coming to rest at odd angles. Her tail was twitching beneath her, wrapping around her legs as if to comfort her.
"I expect everything will go smoothly in my absence," Macavity instructed the henchcat nearest, turning tail and exiting his own lair.
The night was clear, no dark clouds covering the numerous stars. The moon was full, meaning that another Jellicle meeting was underway. Macavity's stomach clenched unpleasantly as he came to this realization.
This night may well be a new Jellicle Ball, his pupils dilated as he allowed himself to become entraced with the moon's light. He breathed in the night air deeply, the cool scents drifting lazily into his nose. He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply before exhaling slowly and silently.
Was Celesta inside his lair, breathing in unison with him? He did not care. She no longer mattered to him, now that she had given the one thing she was useful for: a thaumaturgist. The litter she bore tonight was of no importance to him, unless, by some chance, he was not the father.
The Hidden Paw does not tolerate disobedience.
He turned, to see a shivering henchcat hovering by the entrance to his lair. He blinked, coming back from his thoughts, only slightly surprised to feel his fur pressed against his body by a thick layer of rain. His eyes lifted to the sky, but there were no clouds to be seen.
"What is it?" his voice was hoarse and gruff, and his shook himself impatiently, showering the unfortunate henchcat with cold water.
"It is finished," the cat said, water dripping from his chin onto the ground as he spoke. His shivering had doubled now that he was covered in water, but he dared not shake himself dry, not while the Hidden Paw was within range.
"And?" Macavity was growing impatient. "The result?"
The cat was mouthing wordlessly, giving Macavity all the answer he needed. He pushed the cat to the ground roughly before re-entering his lair to assess the newborn kittens.
Celesta's eyes were dull and unfocused. She laid peacefully on her side, her breathing returned to normal, as five kittens tumbled over each other in their haste to feed.
Macavity's eyes were slits as he began to look over the newborns. From this distance, he could not decipher the genders, but one glance was enough to tell him that these kittens were not his. Not a single one had a hint of ginger to their fur.
Four of the little cats were pure white, their fur still wet and sticky. As one of these was pushed by its siblings, Macavity noted that it was a tom. He reached out with a paw and swiftly scooped this kitten up off the ground.
This was enough to bring the life back into Celesta's eyes. She blinked stupidly for a few seconds before realizing just what Macavity had in his paw.
"Please," she whispered, her voice strained. "I gave him to you. Don't take another one away from me."
Macavity's paws fastened around the little tom's throat. It was over in a single, strangled cry from his mother. Carelessly, Macavity flung the broken body back into the pile of scrambling kittens.
Celesta closed her eyes as the little white tom's body came in contact with her own. Macavity took advantage of this and, with a vicious swipe, separated the four remaining kittens from their mother.
Her eyes flew open, her sore body struggling to its feet. He knew she was in no condition to fight, and so kept her still with his mind. He laid each of the four kittens down on the ground between himself and Celesta, each on their backs.
Two of the remaining white kittens were toms, the other a queen. However, Macavity was not interested in these three at present. He had eyes only for the last kitten, a black and white tom who looked all too familiar.
He picked up this kitten roughly, letting the small body swing dangerously in the air. He thrust the kitten into Celesta's face and growled, "Tell me what he is."
"No," Celesta's voice was firm, her eyes focusing on the kitten.
"Who have you given one to this time?" Macavity flung the kitten down. The tiny thing began yowling on impact, writhing on its back.
"He isn't the same," Celesta's eyes were still on the kitten. "He isn't one, I just know it."
Growling, Macavity turned his back on the tom and his mother and instead turned his attention to the three remaining kittens. He picked up one of the white toms.
"Am I safe in assuming that this is what the father looks like?" Macavity shook the kitten viciously. "It makes my job all the easier, my dear, for white cats aren't very hard to find."
Celesta flinched against Macavity's hold as this kitten joined his brother, and again as the last white tom joined the still pile.
"Zleb!" Macavity's voice echoed menacingly around his lair. The still wet henchcat entered, trembling.
"Take this kitten out of my sight," he gestured to the little tuxedo kitten. "Ensure that he is placed with cats that will care for him. I never want to see him again, is that clear?"
"Yes," Zleb bent down in a bow before shuffling over to the still yowling kitten and lifting him up between his teeth. As Celesta watched, powerless to stop him, Zleb bounded out of Macavity's lair, his footfalls dying away.
"Why do you care?" Celesta's voice was forced. "Why must he be raised at all, when you slaughtered his brothers without a second thought?"
"I will not be responsible for the death of a thaumaturgist," Macavity closed his eyes. "I will not destroy a brother."
"He is not one of you," Celesta argued, but Macavity could hear a note of uncertainty in her voice. "He will never become what Mistoffelees has."
"Stop it!" Macavity struck the side of Celesta's face, knocking her back. "I will not have you stain the name of a thaumaturgist in that manner. His name is Mephistopheles."
"I will never call my son that horrid name," Celesta remained crumpled on the ground. "He may become the next thaumaturgist and overthrow the Jellicles and become ten times as bad as you are, but I will never call him that name."
"Then you will be marked as an enemy and sent back to the hovel I found you in!" Macavity shot back. "And you may think that your precious son will rescue you, that the father of this wreched litter will find you and keep you, but that will never happen." As he continued, Macavity's voice was pure ice. "I will see to that."
"Your mother never wanted you," Macavity faced Celesta, though he was speaking to the little thaumaturgist behind him. "She hates you, as you heard from her own lips. Mephistopheles, I am your father, the only cat that will ever accept you. You must learn to never trust other cats, for even those you believe love you will never so much as accept you."
He turned to face the tuxedo tom, but was completely taken aback by the sight before his eyes.
Mephistopheles had scooped up the litte white kitten into his paws, gently rocking her back and forth in her mother's absence. Her little paws were pulling at the white fur on his chest, causing him to chuckle.
Macavity moved closer to the two half-siblings, his shadow falling over the two. This caused Mephistopheles to look upwards, blanching under his father's critical gaze.
"Hand over the kitten," Macavity held out a paw.
"What are you going to do to her?" Mephistopheles turned his body so the litte queen was out of sight.
"Does that concern you?" Macavity shot back, surprised at his son's daring.
"No," Mephistopheles shifted uncomfortably, still not doing as Macavity had asked.
It took Macavity mere seconds to see that he had made a mistake in calling Mephistopheles in to hear his mother's tale. The tom was still very young, and although he could be as brutal and merciless as Macavity, he had a soft spot where his mother was concerned. Anything his mother cared for he also cared for. Even after hearing her admit to never wanting him, Mephistopheles still wanted to please her, to keep her kitten safe.
"I am not going to harm the kitten," Macavity said slowly, his paw still extended. Hesitantly, Mephistopheles turned and released the little queen, nudging her gently so she was within Macavity's reach. He picked her up gently, calling in a new henchcat as he did so.
"Bring this litte one to the Jellicles," he said simply. Although the henchcat looked puzzled, he picked up the white queen and exited the lair.
"But why did you do that?" Mephistopheles tugged on his father's arm. "The Jellicles are bad cats."
"Her father was a Jellicle, Mephistopheles," Macavity told the litte tom gently. "She belongs with them, just as you belong with me. Now, I expect you to never speak of that kitten again, are we clear?"
"Yes," Mephistopheles nodded.
"Good," Macavity nodded as well. "Now, I want you to go outside and practice your new levitation spell I taught you." Mephistopheles bobbed his head in a bow and exited.
"My dear," Macavity turned back to Celesta. "I want to teach you a new lesson as well…"
Macavity was sickened by the sight before him. Two pure white cats were jumping gracefully through the air, the still tiny kitten seeming to have none of the typical clumsiness of cats that age. She followed her father with ease, contorting her body into difficult and elaborate poses.
Both had fluffy white tails that remained eerily still as they moved. Admittedly, their tails moved in time with their bodies, but there was none of the usual flicking movements.
He could smell the happiness on the air. Oh, how he longed to puncture it with his claws, claws that were singing out of hatred.
He closed his eyes, breathing deeply. He allowed himself to permeate the joyful aura around the two cats, bringing them to a standstill. He pushed the litte kitten away with his will, making her turn and run as fast as her little paws could carry her into the Jellicle clearing.
But the tom… her father… Keeping him motionless, Macavity pounced on him, teeth sinking deep into the his neck. His mouth overflowed with the blood, dripping down his ginger fur and onto the ground beneath him. The tom's white fur became covered with the sticky liquid, turning crimson.
Macavity began pressing his paws to the tom's fatal wound, covering his claws with blood. Then, in long, sweeping movements, he spread the blood like paint over the tom's body.
By the time he was found, Macavity was long gone. The tom was barely recognizable, covered in dried, brown blood from head to tail.
If anyone would like an explanation, let me know. This story is based largely on interpretation and the gaps are filled in as I go, but I have a feeling this chapter was confusing. So if you'd like a detailed and chronological explanation of this story, PM me and I'll send it to you. I have a feeling that leaving the white queen that Macavity gave to Mephisto nameless was a mistake, as was not explaining why I made certain things happen, this and the last chapter in particular...