Kitten pulled the scarf tighter around her head and ducked out of the door, pulling it tightly shut behind her. The scarf wasn’t just to keep the biting cold wind out. The door nearly-slammed wasn’t just to keep that wind from snatching it open and banging. Although that would make her master yell louder, and… the familiar shivered with a familiar feeling that bore no connection to the weather. She hurried along the slushy street, keeping her head down and her tail tucked close to keep it from accidentally going under a cart wheel. Accidentally on-purpose, of course, not that she could do more than yowl about it. Magi’s familiars weren’t exactly popular to the people of the city. Not that she had ever gotten to experience anything else. She’d come here as a blind infant in a pocket, and she would leave here…
She dodged with more speed than grace as a cart veered nearly off the street at her. Stumbling, when arms wrapped around her and tugged her toward the building, she couldn’t resist.
“Hey, now, my girl. Can’t have that lovely fur getting muddy.” The arms put her down gently, and Kitten turned to find her only friend smiling down at her.
“Pongo!” She looked around. The street was empty for a moment. “Where did you come from?”
The big orange ape grinned broadly, revealing yellow teeth, and chucked her under the chin. “I am not so foolish as to brave the streets, even in my boots. Which hurt the feet, but are better than the cold wet.” He lifted one bow leg to show off his oddly shaped footgear.
“Yes, I see. But where…?”
“Come, come,” He tsked at her, shaking his head. “The cold has addled your brain, I can hear clearly. You need a cuppa and a scone.”
“I have an errand…” Kitten didn’t protest too much. A hot sip and something sweet sounded divine.
“You have time. What magi really begins to work before midnight’s stroke?” Pongo casually reached up and grabbed the crosspiece of the nearest lamppost. “Upsadaisy, my pet.”
Kitten didn’t even have the time to squeak before he’d swept her up into his other arm and somehow scaled the building they had been standing next to. He used his empty hand, and both feet, in spite of boots, and she wouldn’t put it past Pongo to have used magic as well, even if they were forbidden under seal of law from such.
They sped along at the level of chimney pots, up and over roofs and across the chasm of alleys with gay abandon. Well, Pongo was gaily chattering, anyway. Kitten hid her face in his warm shoulder hair whenever they were going to leap out over the cold dark spaces between buildings. Finally, when her heart felt like it would hammer out of her chest, he set her down. She staggered a little, and he wrapped a collegial arm around her shoulders. “Steady on, old girl. This is just the place to buck you up.”
Kitten focused on the small sign affixed to the sooty bricks. It read, simply, Teacakes. Pongo opened the door and bowed her in with a ridiculous flourish.
Kitten stepped over the threshold uncertainly. Some establishments would chase their kind out with brooms or worse. But if Pongo said it was all right… She looked around the small place with interest. It was warm, and there were just a few tables with mismatched tables. A big sable came bustling out of the back through an arched doorway, pushing a beaded curtain out of her way.
“Pongo! I knew it vas you!”
She bussed him on both cheeks, didn’t seem to mind that he’d pinched her ample behind, simply flicking her tail with a giggle, before turning on Kitten. “Hello, little vun! Now, who are you?”
“Teacakes, this is Kitten.”
Kitten hoped her tail wasn’t bottling. “H-hello.” She looked up at the sable, who twinkled back kindly.
“Child! Velcome, come sit and be varm. Pongo, shame for carrying her out on such an evening.”
Kitten allowed herself to be herded to a small table in the corner. “Here, you can sit and chat in peace.” Teacakes patted Pongo on his balding head. “You, rascal, I shall not forgive.”
With those ominous words she disappeared again behind the tinkling curtain. Kitten sank into her chair, half stunned. “What. Who. Um.”
Pongo chuckled and flipped his chair around, straddling it as was his usual habit. With his massive shoulders, he’d explained once, human chair backs were not exactly comfortable. The big orangutan dropped his smiled for an instant. “Why are you out on such an evil day, Kitten? And let your hair down, it’s warm enough in here.”
Kitten put an oddly long-toed paw to her scarf knot protectively, tightening the warm fabric more securely. “It’s not about the… it’s not the weather.” She sighed. Better to just get it over with. He’d seen worse, she knew. She untied the covering and pushed it back. His eyes widened in shock. “I’ll put it back on.” She pulled it back up, and he put up a hand.
“Sorry, Kitten, I wasn’t thinking. What in the name of the ever-be-damned Dickens was he thinking?”
“Oh, it’s just a rental. I’ll have them back in the morning.” Kitten assured him. She put the scarf over her head loosely, anyway.
“Well, it’s all the rage, you know. Girls want to be real neko-anime creatures, at least for a costume ball’s worth of time.” This wasn’t the first time Kitten had suffered the indignity of wearing another’s ears.
“So you have to be a cat with girl ears.” His voice was flat and his eyes hooded.
“Pongo, you know it’s part of… part of what we are.” Her voice faltered. She was never quite certain what his relationship was with his own Magus. Just that the big ape’s huge physical strength was required.
“Aye.” He looked away for a second. When he looked back the smile had returned. “Bosses. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em, eh?”
“No.” Kitten knew her own voice was bleak, but she couldn’t help it. The door opening distracted her. With a clatter and laughter, four other familiars piled into the shop.
“Pongo, old man! Fancy meeting you here! Say…” The speaker, a thin Irish Setter, spotted her and winked. “Who have we here? Introductions! I demand them!”
The moment passed, and Kitten discovered that Teacakes was the haunt of familiars, the only place in the city where they could commune with one another. It was also… but that is a story for another day, and I must slip out in the noise of the tearoom, and pull the door silently shut behind me for now.
My Odd Prompt for this week was by Misha Burnett, with “Two magi’s familiars kvetch about their masters.” and I prompted ‘Nother Mike with “A flock of pigeons, whispering like lost souls.” Both of them submitted their prompt responses in the comments of the prompt post, and I highly recommend a click through to read. Excellent stuff.
And if you’d like to take part in the prompt challenge, send your prompt to email@example.com. See you there!
5 thoughts on “Too Familiar: Odd Prompted”
I like this!
Aww, I like. Started out a bit dreary, but ended kinda cute and fuzzy.
I do cute. I can’t help it!
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