Fragile Memories

Chapter IV

Ryou couldn't believe how big his new home was! It made his old mansion home with Lilly seem small!

It was so large in fact, that Ryou was now riding on Julian's shoulders because his small legs had gotten tired from trying to keep up with his new owner's very long ones, feline stamina notwithstanding. He was smiling brightly as he looked around, his small hands resting on top of Julian's head, feeling his silky strawberry-blond hair under his fingertips and only vaguely aware of the thick braid laying over his leg where it wouldn't get tugged on.

Julian's warm hands were wrapped around his ankles to help him stay balanced as they walked and he smiled a little at every delighted noise he heard Ryou make. The cub didn't notice this of course, nor the admiring looks from the many members of the staff in the halls, most were rabbits since they were one of the most common of all the species and were often worked as maids, butlers and even nannies. It was a popular trend to have all of the rabbits of matching color but the ones that worked in Julian's home were of all different breeds, color and age.

They'd already been through the wing his own bedroom was in, Julian pointing out where several others of Ryou's kind slept. Ryou had lost track there were so many names and types, though he remembered where Otogi's room was since it was right across from his own. He'd also been shown the main living room and the dining room, they were going into the kitchen at the moment and Ryou took a deep breath of all the smells that came to him as they went through the swinging doors.

He then proceeded to stare at the very busy occupants of the kitchen; it looked like there was a whole herd of chinchillas cooking!

One of the younger ones, a female with light gray fur and wide brown eyes, noticed him and let out a tinkling laugh, she, like the rest, were dressed in human cook uniforms and hats. She walked over and after a short greeting bow to Julian, looked up at Ryou, she had a pretty bell like voice and a hyper energy about her, "Hello there!"

Ryou ducked his head shyly, looking down at her while trying to hide behind his hair and she let out that tinkling laugh again, "Aw, you're shy, how sweet you are!" She turned away for a moment and came back with a small mini loaf of sweet bread in a napkin and held it up to him with a smile, "Here, you can have this. It's fresh out of the oven!" When he reached out but hesitated, she moved it a little closer, "Go on, I promise it's good."

The cub took the bread slowly, feeling it's warmth through the napkin on his hands, and sniffed at it. After deciding he liked the smell he took a tentative bite, his eyes lighting up at the good taste of the soft fresh bread and he smiled at the female chinchilla as he took another bite.

A bright smile accompanied another of those tinkling laughs, "I'm so glad you like it!" She looked around side to side then went up on her toes to speak in a conspiratorial voice to a wide-eyed Ryou, "I'm Elli and if you ever get hungry you can come find me and I'll sneak you something." He nodded with a tentative grin and she smiled back.

"Elli!" The girl jumped guiltily, her long fur fluffing a bit, when the chinchilla that was obviously the head cook called after her, scolding because she wasn't doing her job and Ryou giggled a little.

"I'll see you later tiger cutie, I have to go before he gets too excited and loses his fur." She winked and tapped Ryou on the nose, the cub giggling into his bread as he watched her go over to the head cook and blink up at him innocently, he was obviously used to her antics and wasn't fooled as he sent her to the other side of the enormous kitchen to wash dishes. Elli bounced off with a cheerful salute and grin to do as told; the head cook rolling his eyes.

Julian laughed quietly and lightly squeezed one of Ryou's ankles, head tilting slightly as he spoke to the cub, "Ready to go and see the rest?" Ryou nodded, making a tiny affirmative noise, still keeping his silence when it came to actually speaking. "All right."

"Next on the tour? The indoor pool/sun room!" Julian proclaimed this in his usual soft voice, but with a dramatic attitude that drew a giggle from Ryou as he munched on his bread (being careful not to get any crumbs in Julian's hair). Julian smiled as he walked through the hall, giving simple nods of greeting to different servants that they ran across.

Ryou let out a quiet gasp of awe when they came to their destination, it was so pretty, and big! The whole area teemed with plant life that thrived on the sunlight coming in through huge skylights in the ceiling and the pool looked more like a miniature lake than what it actually was-if you ignored the diving boards. A good distance away-safe from the water-was a scattered grouping of deep blue comfortable looking furniture and glass tables, looking perfect for lounging.

Julian smiled at the gasp and lightly squeezed Ryou's ankles, "Would you like down Ryou so you may look around yourself?" The tiger made an affirmative noise, nodding at the same time and looking around with wide eyes as Julian easily lifted him down and set him on the floor, giving his head a pat.

Finishing his bread, Ryou started towards the pool, not noticing when an amused looking Julian plucked the crumpled napkin from his hand and took it to a wastebasket over in the lounging area.

Ryou made his way over to the pool with a fascinated look, sniffing at the flowers of the plants then sneezing several times in a row. He ended up plopped down on his rear next to the pool with his right side facing the water as he scrubbed at his face to try to get rid of that odd tingly feeling in his nose so he wouldn't sneeze again and didn't notice the way his tail hung over the side of the pool just above the water.

What he did notice was when something tugged on his tail and he jumped, whirling around to stare wide-eyed at the water, not seeing anything. Ears folded back and tail tucked in close to his legs, Ryou crept closer to the water in a slow crawl.

Just as he peered over the edge something shot up through the surface of the water in front of Ryou and soaked the tiger cub. Ryou let out a tiny roar that was half yelp as he jumped back, his wet and matted fur bristling and his ears laying back, pupils huge as he blinked the water out of his eyes to try and make the blurry thing in front of him clear.


A/N: Here's more, enjoy! Reviews are appreciated!