It was raining again. Not that that was unusual in London. But you'd really hoped that it wouldn't rain again today. It was too cold for that.
With a sigh you pulled your umbrella out of your bag and opened it, stepping out into the downpour outside your office. You were glad for the rain boots you got for Christmas as you sloshed through puddles and tried to avoid the other people scurrying by on the sidewalk. A stiff breeze came up and you snuggled further into your scarf. A rainy London day in January
it was definitely not your favorite time of year.
You were paused on a street corner on your way to the Underground in order to wait for the streetlight to change when you saw movement out of the corner of your eye. You turned- the tail of some kind of animal was just disappearing into the bushes along the edge of the sidewalk. Curious you went to have a look.
Squatting down you spotted a yellow tabby cat crouched on the wet ground beneath the bushes' foliage. He was a handsome cat with a sleek coat, though he did look a bit thin. He had the brightest green eyes you had ever seen on a cat and there were thick, dark markings above them that reminded you of very thick eyebrows. You giggled at the thought.
The poor thing looked absolutely miserable, however. He was soaking wet, crouching with his tail wrapped around his feet, his ears back, and his fur all fluffed up in an attempt to conserve some heat. "Poor kitty," you murmured, reaching out a hand to stroke him.
You froze as those bright green eyes rose and met your own. There was a spark of understanding in them that looked almost
human. It sent a shiver down your spine, shocking you to the core. And then the cat meowed and the spell was broken. You smiled again as he butted his head against your hand, purring lightly.
"You must be pretty miserable, huh?"
The cat meowed again, something in its tone suggesting agreement. You were struck by the sense that the cat had understood you, but you shook it off. Cats were just cats right? They couldn't understand human speech.
you couldn't leave the poor thing out here to shiver alone in the rain. It didn't have a collar so it was probably a stray. Perhaps you could take it to an animal shelter?
You reached out to pick the cat up, awkwardly jamming the pole of your umbrella underneath your chin. The cat easily slipped away from you, however, with the fluid, uncaring grace that all cats seemed to possess. You were not so graceful. You lost your balance between trying to maintain a grip on your umbrella and grab the cat, and with footing being so wet
well, you slipped and landed on your ass, cursing as your clothing was quickly soaked through.
The cat purred loudly at you, for all the world looking highly amused and extremely smug. You threw a glare in his direction. "Oh shut up," you said, rising to your feet and collecting your belongings. You were extremely displeased about losing your umbrella- you were almost as wet as the cat now. "I was just trying to help. And at least I don't look like I have caterpillars for eyebrows!"
The cat yowled angrily at that, green eyes sparking in irritation. Ok, he'd definitely understood that. You decided to ignore it, however, as the cat turned and walked away, holding his tail straight up in the air haughtily.
"Oh, come on, I didn't mean it!" you said, following him down the sidewalk and trying not to giggle at his feline irritation. "I really was trying to help you earlier. Um
The cat stopped as you held your umbrella out so that he was sheltered by it as well. He turned and looked at you, eyes strangely calculating and slightly suspicious.
"Look, I don't know where you live," you continued, vaguely wondering why you were talking to a cat like this and realizing that everyone else who happened to be on the sidewalk was shooting you funny looks. "But I'm heading to the Underground. You can share my umbrella until I get there if you like."
The cat sat down for a moment, staring at you with an unblinking gaze as he seemed to consider it. Finally he meowed- again the tone suggested agreement- before standing again and walking back the way he had come towards the street corner. Smiling to yourself you followed him, careful to make sure that your umbrella protected him as well.
The cat stayed with you all the way to the entrance of the station, easily avoiding the hurried feet of the other people all around. You stopped a few feet away and glanced down at your companion. "Well we're here. I don't think you'll want to come down with me. You'd probably get stepped on."
The cat looked up at you and meowed again. He brushed himself up against your legs just once, purring, before trotting back out into the rain. You took his brief contact both as a 'thank you' and a farewell. "Goodbye!" you called after him, ignoring the weird looks other people were giving you again. Smiling to yourself and feeling like you'd just made a new friend you headed down into the subway.
It turned out that you had made a new friend. For the next several weeks the cat was always waiting for you on the same street corner where you first met as you walked home from work and stayed with you until you reached the Underground station before disappearing back to whence he'd come. You were both surprised and pleased the first time, but as the days passed you began to look forward to the cat's presence.
Despite the fact that he was just a cat- or at least that's what you kept telling yourself- you began to talk to him just like he was a human, telling him about your plans for the weekend or complaining about work. He'd often respond with meows, growls, hisses, and yowls depending on what seemed appropriate. In fact it often seemed like you were having a real conversation. You'd decided that you were very good with animals and that it was not, in fact, that the cat was extremely smart.
About a month had passed when everything changed. It was a cold February evening and it had started snowing sometime that afternoon. Normally this wouldn't have bothered you, but you'd been working late all week because of a big project so you were extremely tired and stressed. You complained loudly as you stepped outside into the dark street and a few cold snowflakes managed to sneak down the back of your neck. Turning into the wind you hurried off, hoping to get home before you froze to death.
It was so cold and you were in such a hurry to get home that you didn't pay much attention to where you were going, the route so ingrained in your mind that your feet took you towards home automatically. You briefly wondered if the cat would be upset at you tomorrow for being so late, but then you decided not to worry about it. Surely he wouldn't wait so late. And that brought you back to why you were going home so late and you quickly became engrossed in worrying about work again.
Suddenly there was a flash of light and the sound of screeching tires. You looked up just in time to realize that you had walked right out into the street without checking to make sure there were no cars coming. A taxi was careening towards you, its tires slipping on the snow-slicked roads, and your stomach jumped into your throat as you realized that there was now way it could stop before it hit you.
Something tangled in your feet and you abruptly fell backwards. The taxi skidded to a stop where you had been standing just a moment before. The taxi driver cursed at you out his open window before speeding off. You didn't move- you couldn't. You just sat there, trying to calm your panicked breathing and slow your racing heart. You had nearly died!
You looked down as an unfamiliar weight settled on your lap. It was your yellow tabby friend and he was definitely scowling at you in a way that no cat should be able to.
"You really are a bloody fool, you know that?"
You frowned in confusion and glanced around. Where did that voice come from? It was late so there wasn't anyone else around.
"What, did you hit your head too? I'm right here."
Again you looked around. No one. Feeling growing trepidation you looked back at the cat on your lap. "You really should thank me or something," the voice, distinctly male, said moodily, the cat's tail swinging back and forth irritably in time with the speech. "I did just save your life."
you saved me?" you squeaked in confusion, feeling too dazed to properly process anything.
"Damn right I did. What kind of stupid git just walks out into the road without checking for cars first?"
"Hey!" you protested quickly. "I've been really busy at work this week! I'm stressed and tired and it's cold and it's really late!"
The cat gave you a withering look.
And then it hit you. "Holy shit, you're talking!" you screamed, scrambling to your feet and unceremoniously dumping the cat out of your lap.
"You just realized that?" he asked acerbically as he stood up again and shook himself to rid his coat of snow.
I mean, you're a cat! How can you be talking?!" you screamed again, on the edge of hysterics. But, somehow, it all made sense. You'd pushed it to the back of your mind, but from the first moment you'd seen him you'd known he was more than just a cat.
"It's a bit complicated," the cat admitted, crouching down and curling his tail around his feet just like how he'd been when you first met him. Suddenly you were reminded just how cold it was outside.
I'm sorry. I didn't mean to react like that. It's just
" you trailed off, uncertain about how to continue. The cat's bright green eyes met yours and he nodded- he understood. "You did just save my life though. Is there anything, anything at all, that I can do to return the favor?"
" the cat admitted quietly. "It is blasted cold out here tonight. Could I, uh
if it wouldn't be too much trouble
stay with you tonight?" The last part of his question was mumbled so softly that you barely heard it. You had to suppress a grin at that. Cats are such prideful creatures.
"Of course!" you cried happily, scooping the cat up in your arms. He yowled and grumbled half-hearted protests for several blocks before settling into the warmth of your hold, purring quietly.
"Here we are! It's not much, but it's home," you said sheepishly as you pushed the door of your apartment open. The cat jumped out of your arms as you stepped inside and disappeared to investigate as you closed and locked the door behind you.
There really wasn't much to your apartment. It was small, but London is an expensive city. The apartment consisted of one large main room where the kitchen was located. You'd also managed to stuff your couch and TV in the room and a teeny tiny dining table. Beyond that was your bedroom- also small- and your bathroom. The cat reappeared as you shed your coat and boots.
"It's nice actually," he told you causing to glow slightly with pride. "Perfectly adequate."
You decided to ignore the last part of that comment that could be considered an insult. "Thank you
" You paused. "I never really thought about it before, but what's your name? I mean I can't just keep calling you 'cat'."
"No, that isn't really appropriate," the cat agreed. "My name is Arthur Kirkland. And you?"
"Well it's very nice to meet you."
"It's nice to meet you too." You tried and failed to suppress your giggle. The cat- Arthur- gave you a look that was most definitely a glare. "I'm sorry," you said once you managed to get yourself under control. "It's just that Arthur Kirkland seems like such a stuffy name for a cat."
"Well," Arthur sniffed haughtily. "I'm not actually a cat now am I?"
"I don't know. If you're not a cat then what are you?"
is a bit difficult to explain. I think it'd be best if I showed you something first." He stood and padded into the middle of the room. He turned and added, sounding nervous for the first time, "And, please, try to remain calm."
You frowned slightly, confused, but nodded. For a minute Arthur just stood there in the middle of the floor. And then he began to change. Fur disappeared, replaced by pale, smooth skin. He grew taller, limbs elongating, until where there had once been a cat there was now a human.
He had untidy blond hair that was the same shade as the cat's fur and the same intelligent, bright green eyes. Above those eyes were thick, dark eyebrows that matched the markings of his cat form. He was not particularly tall, nor was he overly muscular, but he was still extremely attractive.
Oh. And he was naked.
With a yelp of surprise you clapped your hands over your eyes, your face quickly turning bright red with embarrassment.
"C-can I get you anything?" you asked, trying desperately to fill the awkward silence.
"Yes, some tea would be lovely. Please." Arthur looked as uncomfortable as you felt.
He was now fully dressed thankfully. Luckily you had some men's clothes lying around from when your brother would come to visit, and while they were a bit large they fit well enough. As you bustled about making tea Arthur took a seat at your cramped little table. Once you were finished you sat as well, setting a cup before both of your seats and focusing your gaze on yours in order to avoid Arthur's eyes. You just couldn't find the courage to look him in the eye after seeing him
naked. You felt your cheeks warm at just the thought.
"I really am sorry about all of this," Arthur began after taking a sip from his cup. You peeked up through your bangs at him and were surprised to see his cheeks stained pink. "I really didn't mean to surprise or, uh, embarrass you like that." Arthur's blush darkened and you felt your own face heat up more as the memory flashed through your mind again.
"It's ok," you replied, doing your best to move the conversation away from that potentially problematic topic. "Just, please, explain
What exactly are you?" You raised you eyes to meet Arthur's brilliant green gaze.
He met your gaze steadily and nodded. "I'm what is known as a Shifter, a cat Shifter to be exact. Essentially I'm a being that has the ability to transform into a cat or a human at will."
The wheels of your mind clicked slowly as you processed that. "So
you're an animagus?"
Arthur choked on his tea. "What?! You mean like from 'Harry Potter'?!" Arthur spluttered, surprised. You nodded eagerly. "No, it's nothing like that," Arthur replied, frowning heavily, his distinguished eyebrows drawn together in irritation. "It is a type of magic, however."
you are an animagus."
"No! Oh bloody hell
" Arthur trailed off as you burst into giggles, highly amused by the way his eyebrows twitched when he was annoyed. Arthur sighed resignedly, but by the time you had gotten yourself under control he was wearing a small smile.
"I'm sorry," you said smiling back. "It was just too good to pass up."
"It's alright," Arthur replied, waving your apology away.
You were glad for that bit of fun you had. It helped you feel a bit better about being so overwhelmed after seeing a cat, that could also talk, transform into a human. But as you both calmed down, the awkwardness returned and silence settled heavily in your small apartment.
if it makes you uncomfortable to see me like this I can always change back into a cat," Arthur offered suddenly, his expression unsure.
Hurriedly you shook your head. "No, that's ok. I think I'd prefer it you stayed human now." You left it unsaid that you wouldn't feel comfortable having Arthur around as a cat when you knew a human mind was between his ears. "Anyways, I've got to be at work early tomorrow, so I need to go to bed. You're welcome to the couch."
"Thank you," Arthur replied, giving you a smile, grateful smile that made your heart do a funny little flip.
Suddenly nervous for reasons you didn't quite understand you tentatively returned his smile, took your untouched cup of tea to the sink, and went back to your bedroom to go to sleep.
The next morning was only slightly less awkward than the night before had been. You stepped our of your bedroom after showering and getting ready for work to find that Arthur was already up and had made some tea.
"Good morning," he greeted you pleasantly before setting a cup of tea down in front of the chair you had been sitting in the night before.
"G-good morning," you replied both taken aback and rather pleased by his kind gesture. "Thank you."
Arthur smiled at you in a way that made your heart do a definite flip before turning back to the stove. "I can make breakfast for you too, if you like."
"No that's ok," you responded almost too quickly, your nervousness returning in full force. "I need to get to the office early today."
There was an awkward pause. "I see," Arthur said, suddenly very busy in the sink. "I apologize for being so presumptuous."
"No, really, it's fine. It was very kind of you to offer."
You hurriedly finished your tea after that, just wishing to escape the suddenly suffocating silence. Arthur kept himself busy in your kitchen until you stood by the door, coat and boots on, ready to leave.
" you began uncertainly. "I really should get going now."
"Of course, of course," Arthur replied absentmindedly, coming to stand by the door with you. "I suppose I should depart now as well." You weren't sure if you were just imagining it, but he looked slightly disappointed. But before you got the chance to say anything he began to change, his form shifting fluidly until where a man had been standing there was just a pile of clothes on the floor.
A yellow tabby wriggled out from beneath the clothing and looked up at you with those bright green eyes. Again you were struck by how very human they looked, even when Arthur was a cat. And, you thought, they looked quite sad too. "Lead on, -name-."
The two of you set out into the frosty winter morning. The snow had kept on through the night and there was now a light dusting on everything. There weren't very many people out this early, but neither of you spoke, awkwardness still hanging in the air like a cloud.
You stopped before the entrance to the Underground and looked down at the cat that wasn't really a cat beside you. "This is where I head down," you said. "Do you want me to carry you again?"
"No, thank you," Arthur answered, shaking his head (a very strange looking movement for a cat). "I think I'll just walk from here."
"Oh, ok." You thought you did a good job of hiding the disappointment in your voice. For reasons that you didn't really understand you felt quite sad at the thought of Arthur's imminent departure.
There was another uncomfortable silence until Arthur cleared his throat. "Well, good bye."
see you around." Rather than heading down into the subway immediately you watched Arthur pad off down the street, leaving tiny footprints behind in the freshly fallen snow and odd sense of loss weighing heavily on your chest.
It was another late night at the office. Exhausted, you made your way towards the Underground station with your thoughts whirling about work. While your mind had been busy with your job all day, your heart had been somewhere else, wondering about a certain cat that could change into a man at will (or perhaps it was the other way around?). The sadness that hadn't left you all day only made you feel more drained.
You were so tired that you walked right past that fateful corner without a second glance. Until, of course, you heard a familiar voice say, "name-! Where on earth are you going?" With a gasp you spun around and were startled to see that same yellow tabby sitting on the sidewalk behind you, irritation sparking in his green eyes.
I didn't think that you were going to be here," you finished lamely. You really hadn't expected to see him today seeing as your house and your office were practically on different sides of the city. It was a long way for a cat to travel in one day, but here he was. A little bubble of joy rose in your chest and practically glowed inside you.
" Arthur muttered, suddenly sounding embarrassed. "I didn't see any reason to break with tradition
"Thank you," you replied, smiling warmly.
Arthur met your gaze for a moment before looking away. "I-it's not a problem
With that the two of you set off again like you always did. Arthur asked you a few questions about work, but once that topic was exhausted silence reigned again. This time, however, it was companionable instead of awkward, as though you both were just happy to enjoy each other's company. You certainly were.
All too soon you came to the entrance to the subway. You looked down at the cat crouched at your feet, his fur fluffed up to help keep him warm. As he turned to meet your gaze a strong gust came up and you pulled your coat more tightly around yourself.
"Well, I suppose I'll see you tomorrow," Arthur said. Again you sensed disappointment.
"Yea," you agreed quietly, that little bubble of happiness that had appeared at the sight of him popping as Arthur started to move away.
You didn't know where it came from- it was completely impulsive- but suddenly you called out after him. "Wait!"
Arthur looked back, confusion in every line in his body. "Um
" you stuttered, now completely unsure about what to say. All you knew was that you just couldn't watch him walk away again. "Look, it's going to be cold again tonight. You can come back to my house and stay again. If
if you want to. I won't mind."
"Really? Are you sure?" Arthur asked, surprise in his tone.
You nodded, smiling, and opened your arms as an invitation. Arthur didn't hesitate and leapt into them, cuddling into your chest as you closed your arms to hold him. Feeling that sensation of glowing joy once again you just caught Arthur's murmur over his thunderous purring as you carried him down into the Underground.