Every day, she walked by the crossroads, and Muta wished she would stop so that he could lead her back to a heavy hearted figurine.
The first time she heard that music again, she broke down in tears worrying both her mother and Hiromi at the sudden change that was so different from her new level headed manner.
A star, an angel, and a well all heard the same wish over and over again, but none could do anything for the strange cat doll and the girl who loved him.
She never visited them, and they never asked why, though Toto and Muta allowed themselves to wonder knowing that Baron would never do so himself.
The afternoon after the trio had dropped off Haru, Toto and Muta had immediately noticed the change that came over Baron, but they did not figure out the reason until many months later when he finally got a new cane and placed the old one reverently beside the door.
One day, Toto flew to her bedroom window, looked in, and saw the much missed girl crying herself to sleep.
For the first time in years, both Muta and Toto agreed on something; this couldn't go on.
8. Whiskey and Rum
The man pledged to through away his bottle forever after seeing a fat cat, a crow, and two other slimmer cats having a conversation in the alley before the two slimmer cats disappeared into a blue circle; no one could convince him he saw that while sober.
Cats were constantly at war with two things, birds and rodents, but for Haru and Baron's sake, Lune would go to beg a favor from the kings of both species.
Yuki watched as her husband entered the room to see what would become of the invitations she held gripped in her paws; they were for their second wedding, since the first one just hadn't felt right without the one who the couple was most indebted to.
Baron was so surprised that Toto and Muta had worked together to get him a gift for his birthday that he didn't immediately realize that they had not brought it in a box.
Haru didn't know what the note meant by "making and giving her a blessing," but she'd go to the Crossroads for any reason anyone would give her.
She looked beautiful standing in his doorway, and Baron was certain she couldn't look any better even if…did she have fur?
For some reason, Haru felt her cheeks warm to an uncomfortable temperature under his continued gaze.
The two stared at each other for so long that Muta stuck a paw under Haru's nose and Toto a wing under Baron's to make sure the two were still breathing.
He stretched out his hand but stopped short of touching her for fear of breaking this wonderful illusion.
With a smile, she reached and grabbed his gloved hand with hers.
When Baron awoke, she was still there, waiting for him on the balcony and smiling. He could not think of waking to a more wonderful sight.
The first time Haru told Baron she would be visiting with Yuki for a week to spend some time with the pregnant queen, Baron knew the disadvantage to loving such a caring person.
"Um…it's kind of a human tradition to get a balloon of these for new babies," said Haru as she gave Yuki four lollipops, "but it's hard to get one that says 'It's a girl, girl, girl, and a boy!' so I thought that lollipops would work just as well."
As Muta and Toto argued in the background, Baron sipped his tea, his eyes wandering to the door while he wondered at how quiet the bureau was without Haru.
As Haru entered the Bureau, Baron's ears twitched, and she knew he would spin around and welcome her home with a bow.
Baron fiddled with the ring in his pocket and tried to convince himself that he had nothing to worry about since he already knew her answer.
The only arguments that sounded throughout the Refuge were between Toto and Muta, but only because Haru and Baron's arguments were the silent kind. Neither wanted to say something he or she would regret.
Baron meant to take time off for their honeymoon, but then a filthy child ended up on their doorstep.
Immediately Haru leapt off to catch the child, knowing that he would be there to catch them both.
Muta made sure to take every chance to ask when he would finally see little Creations running around.
The handsome striped cat kissed Haru's hand, and Baron barely restrained the urge to challenge the tomcat to a duel.
The Cat Kingdom spoke of the two jewels in all the kingdoms that should not be touched under threat of painful death, and their names were Yuki and Haru.
Lune often stopped by the bureau to ask the opinion of the residents on tough judicial matters; the cats loved their new king for his level head and wisdom in all matters.
Baron did not like that expression on Haru's face as she explained that she had a surprise for him.
After their tenth anniversary, even Muta stopped making any allusions to cute brown and cream kittens with hands instead of paws.
The former Cat King got to see Haru only once after she became Baron's wife, because Baron threatened to cut all ties with the Cat Kingdom if the longhair ever got near Haru again.
Baron was tone deaf, but Haru loved to listen to him hum as they danced.
"You think?" said Toto, ignoring the poor lovesick kitten who kept her grey eyes on the couple greeting each other after a long absence.
"Say that again," said Haru, "and you won't have tongue to talk about my husband in that way."
Barely taking a breath, Haru raised her voice and continued on and on about that horrible man that tried to take advantage of Hiromi while Tsuge was away while Baron nodded and enjoyed his wife's eloquence.
Muta grunted as Haru asked him to watch over the Refuge while she and Baron visited the Cat Kingdom yet again.
"What, Baron?" asked Muta with a grin as he brought Haru back from taking her out shopping. "Don't like sharing?"
Baron wondered when spending time alone had begun to mean spending time with Haru.
It took a long time for Haru to realize that the Refuge was not in the middle of nowhere, but in the middle of everywhere.
Toto and Muta stopped in the middle of their argument as Baron stomped over to them with dangerous glint in his green eyes; the two exchanged glances before getting as far away from the Refuge and the recovering Haru as possible.
If anyone asked Baron what he loved about Haru, the feline gentleman would say he had never found something he didn't.
The walk between the Refuge and her mother's grave was never too far for Haru.
After thirty years, Haru finally got the hang of using her tail to keep her from falling, though sometimes she still let herself fall so that Baron would catch her.
"I have to go there, Chicky," said Muta, his once deep voice lightened with old age and illness. He held her hand as tears filled her eyes. "I'm sorry, Chicky, but I have to."
Some thought that the residents of the Refuge were fearless, but the truth was much better.
"I'm sorry," said Baron, unhooking the black feline's paw from his arm, "but I am happily married."
Toto gazed into the Refuge's windows where Haru and Baron were once again dancing and remembered the bet he lost to a fat white cat and a promise he had made to keep an eye on those two.
Years and years passed, but in the Refuge, time had no longer had an real sway in the resident's lives, because they were living in forever.