Chikoku walked fearfully down an alley barely holding back the sounds of sobbing as tears ran down her face. 'Why did I have to follow that cat!' she cried in her head. The 7 year old held back another chocking sob as she stumbled into another alley. With her short black hair she felt the cold wind wrap around her neck. She shivered and looked up to see a very strange sight. It was an archway, but one far shorter than one would expect. She walked underneath and walked into the little courtyard, looking around with her almost black eyes, gasping in awe.
She was staring at a small courtyard with about a dozen or more houses and buildings taller than herself but far too small for any normal person to live in. In the center of this wonderful place was a tall pillar that had a rather large crow on top. She looked around and found that the cat she had been following had sat down onto a wicker chair outside the smallest house in the little town. It was a quaint little house with green trimmings and flowers on either side. The fat cat was now reading a paper that it had gotten from the mailbox out front and the two lights on the outside of the house along with the ones inside were now turned on.
Chikoku walked nervously over to the cat and sniffed "Can you help me kitty?" she asked timidly. The cat made no move to show that he heard her or even that she was alive and she sniffed again as tears rolled down her face anew. "Please kitty!" she begged "I'm really scared. I don't know where my mommy is!" she cried, finally falling to the ground and crying loudly into her hands.
"Keep it down would ya?" someone snapped rudely. Chikoku looked up suddenly and found the fat cat glaring at her. "I'm trying to read!" he growled.
Chikoku's bottom lip trembled and more tears fell to the ground, but before she could utter even an apology, the doors to the little green house opened, flooding the dark courtyard with warm light. A figure stepped from the house and began to walk out, and a gentle, but firm voice came to young girls ears. "Please Muta. This child is terrified. Show at least a little kindness."
The cat, Muta, scoffed and went back to reading, but not before, muttering "Wasn't my fault she followed me here."
The figured turned and smiled at Chikoku making the little girl's inside warm up and she instantly felt far more comfortable. "Good evening. Welcome to the Cat Bureau." The figure, a young woman, said and gave a small curtsy, her smile never leaving her face.
Chikoku smiled and wiped her eyes of the remaining tears and knelt down to the small woman. "You're beautiful." Chikoku said in wonder. This woman, besides being small was dressed in a simple yellow dress that was dripping with elegance along with the woman herself. The woman in question was part cat with feline features such as soft tan fur all over her body (or so the little girl assumed), whiskers, pointy cat ears and a tail swishing slightly. The cat woman however had delicate fingers within small white gloves that reached her wrists and looked human say for the few facts mentioned above.
The woman smiled warmly at Chikoku, her beautiful chocolate eyes dancing with amusement as she said "Thank you. As you can see, you are now in a world quite different than your own. This is a refuge for creations."
Chikoku cocked her head the side confused "Creations?"
The cat woman nodded "Whenever someone creates something with all of their heart, that creation is given a soul." She paused a moment and looked passed Chikoku to the statue behind her "Like Toto there."
Chikoku looked up and saw the most amazing sight ever. The statue began to glow and suddenly it came to life and flapped its wing then adjusted itself. Chikoku stared wide eyed at bird and stuttered "Wha… what…"
The cat woman smiled amusedly and said "That is Toto. A very good friend of mine."
The now living crow looked down at the two and smiled through his beak. "I see you have a visitor today, my lady. Is she here for help?"
The cat woman smiled "I assume so and please Toto, you know better." She scolded the crow lightly. Why, Chikoku did not know.
Chikoku looked to the cat woman again "My lady?" she asked.
The cat woman smiled warmly at her again and nodded "I am the Baroness Haru von Gikkingen. But you may call me Haru."
Chikoku smiled and nodded happily. "Okay! My name's Chikoku!"
Haru's smile never left her face "It's a pleasure to meet you. Miss Chikoku. Now, why don't we step inside? It is terribly cold out and I don't want you to get sick." Haru said leading Chikoku into the little green house.
Once inside Chikoku sat on a little green trunk and smiled "This place is amazing! You have such great taste Lady Haru!"
"Thank you, but this is my husband's doing." Haru said gesturing to the room around her.
"Well he has great taste too!" Chikoku said cheerfully.
Haru chuckled and nodded "I've always thought so, yes." Walking over to the small cabinet next to Chikoku she asked "Would like some tea, dear?"
Chikoku nodded happily "Yes please."
Haru smiled and made them tea briefly stopping to ask if Chikoku wished for lemon or milk in her tea. She chose the latter. "I do have to warn you though, that is my husband's own personal blend of tea and he can never guarantee the taste." Once handing Chikoku her tea, Haru sat down in a large red chair and sipped at her tea. "So Miss Chikoku, what do you think?"
Chikoku smiled and downed the little bit that was offered "That tasted like candy! Can I have some more please?" she asked happily.
Haru chuckled and got her another cup. "I'm glad you think so. Yesterday the batch was terrible. Poor Baron, he was so disappointed."
Chikoku cocked her head to the side once more in confusion "Baron? Who's that?"
Haru smiled "That is my husband. The Baron Humbert von Gikkingen, but I just call him Baron."
Haru turned back to Chikoku and asked gently "So Miss Chikoku, what brought you here to the Bureau?"
Chikoku looked up at Haru "Well I got lost from my mommy and I don't like the dark, then I saw that kitty and I thought he could help me..."
"So you followed him here." Haru finished for her. Chikoku nodded as Toto and Muta came in.
"Well it's not like it's that hard." Toto snickered "He is kind of hard to miss."
"Say that to my face you turkey!" Muta snapped shaking a fist at him.
Haru cleared her throat and glared at them slightly "Boys please." The two had the grace to look ashamed, but said nothing more.
Haru turned her attention back to Chikoku who had started to tear up. "I'm sorry." She choked "I'm really scared of the dark and I just want to go home to my mommy…" she then started to cry even harder.
Haru turned and pointedly glared at the two before setting her tea down and walking over to the crying girl. "Shh," she cooed "It's alright. I am here to help all those who ask for it. I will help you return to your mother, so there is no need to be scared any longer."
Chikoku sniffed and nodded her head, comforted by her words. "Can you really take me back to my mommy?" she asked, hope filling her heart.
Haru smiled tenderly at her "Of course I can. We'd best be off. It is getting darker out by the second and you need to get home to bed."
Haru led Chikoku out of the Bureau and into the courtyard, but before they set off under the archway, Muta called out to them "Hey wait a minute Chicky!"
Haru stopped and turned around with an amused smile playing on her feline lips. Knowing what he was going to say she asked innocently "Something wrong Muta?"
"Yeah, you know how the Baron feels when you go out alone-"
Haru held up her hand and waved the thought away "I'll be fine Muta, and if you feel so nervous you are more than welcome to come with us."
Chikoku nodded happily "Yeah, come on, Buta!" Chikoku gasped and covered her mouth as the blood rushed to her face. Toto burst into hysterical laughter and Haru chuckled a bit before leading the little girl out of the refuge. Chikoku could now hear the beginnings of a fight between Toto and Muta. She looked at her feet "I'm sorry, Lady Haru. I didn't mean to offend him, it just slipped out."
Haru laughed "It's alright, sweetie. Muta is a bit of a pig and he knows you didn't mean it." Chikoku brightened up at that.
"That's good." she said as Haru finally led her out of the maze that was the back alleys. "Hey!" Chikoku cried happily "We're almost to my house! See!" she asked excitedly, pointing to a large bush "There's Mr. Karika's bush that looks like a dog! And over there is Mrs. Uho's front gate!" Haru giggled and slowly followed behind the excited child. When they finally reached Chikoku's house the little girl smiled widely and bent down to her new friend "Thank you so much for helping me, Lady Haru!"
Haru smiled and gently caressed the young girls face. "Of course my dear. I hope you know that there was never anything to fear. For whenever you need help, you simply have to ask for it."
Chikoku nodded enthusiastically "I understand, Lady Haru. Goodbye!" she cried waving until she reached her front door. Chikoku then knocked on her front door and jumped into her mother's arms when the woman opened it for her. "Mommy!" she said joyfully.
Haru smiled and waited in the bushes until she was sure Chikoku was safe and sound before heading back to the bureau.
Baron Humbert von Gikkingen entered his home to a rather unwelcomed sight. Haru was not there to meet him. He pouted just a bit before composing himself and placing his hat, cane, and jacket on the coat rack. He then proceeded to pour himself some tea, before he noticed there was none left. 'That's odd.' He thought 'Haru doesn't usually drink it all and I know Muta had none. Toto might have partaken in some.' Shrugging off the train of thought he went back to making more tea.
Just then Muta walked in "Hey Baron." He said, casually walking over to the cupboard. The cat then proceeded to take the leftovers of last night's Angel Fruit Cake (a good half of it left) and cut himself a large piece.
Baron's whiskers twitched with amusement at his friend's appetite. "Good evening, Muta." His eyes then looked troubled "You wouldn't happen to know where Haru is, would you?"
Muta shrugged "She took some whinny brat back to her house."
Despite being worried for his beloved, Baron couldn't help, but smile at her kind and caring heart. Realizing there was nothing he could do, but wait for her to return, Baron settled into his favorite red chair and got to his paperwork.
Not too long later, Muta had left to go do whatever it was that he did, leaving Baron alone once more. Though the cat figurine had spent most of his time in the Bureau alone, he had grown used to having Haru with him and begun to miss her terribly.
As if by thought alone the bureau doors opened and in stepped the love of his life. He smiled adoringly at her "Welcome home, love." Baron said "I trust everything went well?" Haru smiled at him and walked behind his chair he was sitting in. She then wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed gently.
"Yep." She said before kissing him sweetly on the lips.
AN: So how did I do for my first Cat Returns story? Awesome right? ;D Anyway as most of you CR fans know "Buta" means pig in Japanese, thus the hilarity that insued!