Not For Petting

Title: Not For Petting
Time Period: July 17, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Luna's bedroom has once again become a place for visitors, this time one more familiar with her than she is of him.

While the rest of the castle is dark there are two lights in two separate areas of the castle entirely. The first is down below, where the silhouette of a ginger haired man can be seen hunched over a desk. The other is high above, in the corner where some people say this silhouette belongs. Luna's form passes in front of the orange light of the dying fire, making the room dark to the outside for a brief moment. If this were a usual night, her fire would long be out and that other light would be extinguished as well. But arguments happen. She is gone the moment the window is cracked, just enough to let a soft breeze in.

When she finishes running a brush through her hair, she lays the silver grooming piece on its matching tray. She pauses for a moment, staring at a large piece of furniture that's covered by a white sheet. It's not dusty so it must have been put up fairly recently.

The window is cracked just enough to let a soft breeze in. A soft breeze and a distinguished little finch, golden feathers a smudge in the firelight on the fringe of her perception. Unremarkable.

Forge drops off the sill to the darker floor, bright eyes and stout beak twitching first for Luna and then around for anyone else who might be lurking. Left. Right.

The ceiling.

Left again.

Satisfied that they're alone enough after a pair of hops taken to peep under a ghostly sheet, he fills out into a more comfortable feline form. Paws and claws and thick ring-ed tail prowling into her line of sight from behind.

Her eyes don't stray from the top of the piece, when she stands and crosses the room it's almost as if drawn to it. Of course she is, Luna could never stay away for long. Her plain arm, pale and without the rosy decoration of swirling zipper scars and ugly scabs, reaches up to whisk the fabric away. Underneath, a large mirror causes her to wince and turn away from the sight of her mottled half.

She never notices the cat.

But she's never been particularly observant when it comes to unannounced visitors in her bedroom.

When the sheet drops to the stone floor, her hand moves up to feel the new texture of her skin. No longer smooth and silky, or even beautiful, she's quite slow to look at her own reflection.

Forge's longing for attention falls well short of that of the average ragdoll kitten. He will be seen when he is seen and takes his time touching his nose delicately to this. And that.

He's large for a wildcat — a solid stone and then some — dusty grey pelt textured thick, despite the summer swelter. Darker markings blend from brow to tail, the latter heavily banded in its steady balance behind him.

When he finally circles round to join Luna at the mirror, he appears alongside her reflection to sit quietly at her heel. The jasper orange of his eyes is distinct; he looks plainly to see what it is about herself that she's so fascinated by for a moment and then departs again.

This time for her bed.

The appearance of the wildcat causes the prostitute to jump to the side in fright. She's already been ruined by a beast, quite recently, and doesn't relish the thought of one of her legs matching her arm. So she's wary, just watching it as it strolls toward the bed.

When it's a few kitty paces from the closest post, Luna reaches for a long peacock feather that's been placed in a vase as decoration. She doesn't have a broomstick, or any sort of long pole. She's a mistress, not a scullery maid; a tool for pleasure, not utility. Wiggling the feather in the cat's direction, she attempts to distract it from leaping onto her mattress. "Here kitty, nice kitty…" the song devoted solely to the feline is hushed so as not to alarm it into attack. "Come on then, the bed's no place for such a big kitty. You'd rather a nice pillow by the fire, wouldn't you?"

Luna jumps and Forge's fur puffs a bit along his length — not quite aggressive enough to qualify as a bristle. He doesn't stop, though, and he certainly doesn't divert from the bed. A leap takes him up onto the foot and there he settles, some two or three feet nearer to eye level.

The better to survey her and her feather. He sits upright and watches without blinking, tail bound blunt about his claws. Unimpressed to his core.

"Oooohhhh.." Luna's frustrated whine can't be heard much past the door, certainly not down the stairs to anyone that could help her against the cinderblock beast only a few feet away from her. She wiggles the end feather again, this time away from the wildcat and over the flagstone floor. Cats like to attack little things that move, why isn't this one?

Then and only then, a thought occurs to her. The feather stops wiggling and she tosses it to the side, to drift down and decorate the grey floor. "How did you get in here? Hmm? Not through door and the window ain't open wide enough for a brute as big as you. Is that you, Hush? Why aren't you down with Miss Aislinn? I don't need a babysitter, no matter what they think down there."

Hush has a sweetness about him that isn't reflected here; Forge is hard about the nose and blocky about the muzzle, scars furrowed in slender lines along throat and haunch. Smaller scratches nick about his face and have tagged through one ear.

His look is one of level appraisal at a distance, as if it's been some time since he's seen her. Measuring.

She is right about the window and he has no inclination to demonstrate his method accordingly. Anything little enough to squeeze through is out of his comfort zone.

Drawing her legs up underneath her, Luna sits on her heels and places her good hand on her knee. The scarred arm reaches out, palm up toward the cat, not threatening it by any means. "Hush is usually a white thing, nice and pure like Aislinn. You're all roughed up," a keen observation during which she turns her hand over and leans her shoulder at an angle to show the cat, "just like me. So you're not Hush, or Darklight, or even Masque, not even Fletcher's little darling bird," darling because the magpie let Luna pet her, "and you're not one of the other mages, I know them well enough."

Her eyes flit over the little details, her posture growing a bit more comfortable as the minutes pass. "It's a bit frustrating, aye? I can't hear you and you likely can't understand me worth a lick. If you do, you're not being very kind about it, you could at least give up some little tidbit. Do I know you at all? Do I know your mage?"

'Darling little bird.' Agnostic by default, Forge is forced to look away at that one. He might even sigh — there's a pull about the wiry poke of his whiskers when he looks back to her, tongue pushing out pink over his nose and back in again.

He does not wish to be petted.

Still. After watching her reach and turn and show, he rolls down off the bed and on into an approach without apparent hurry, shoulders and hips slung low. Made for sneaking.

Not that there is anything particularly sneaky about being a massive cat with orange eyes in Luna's bedroom.

He stops within arm's reach. There. As if he knows he is probably supposed to cuddle or comfort but can't quite bring himself to it.

He sits instead, ears already turned halfway down in anticipation of being patted.

It's the ears that receive attention first, scratches behind and around under the chin. Not too much affection from the woman but just enough to give him relief from a flea if he has one, and still retain his dignity. "You're like an old gentleman, aren't you? You don't like it but you'll put up with the muss and the fuss simply because that's what's expected. But you're completely the wrong type of pussy for petting though, it's wrong to even lay a hand on you." Were he a wild kitten, she'd probably lose the hand.

She stops and lets him scrape together whatever self respect he can after the influx of cuddles. "You must know me to come all the way up here to visit. I wish you could say, or would you even if you could? A strong silent little soldier boy, coming to sit with me. Would you like to see something? I went on a trip a month ago, I brought back some wonderful things." Tucked between her mattress and frame is a large leatherbound journal. "I'm planning to go again, not so far this time but there's places to explore close to home."

Not so bad, then. Forge endures with one closed eye and the other at a brimstone slit, chin lifted and ears laid back until he can sort himself out with a finicky shake and stretch back to his feet.

At least she hasn't mussed the run of his coat.

Apt to follow her lead for all that there's little in the way of curiosity about his countenance. He is here because he was told to be here. The sooner he is told All The Things the sooner he can slither back out through a crack in the window too small for cats.

"My first step is to find a horse," she says low, almost conspiratorially. "No one of them giant things that Duncan's brother raises. I want a fine horse that suits me, smaller and more delicate with a coat as golden as the sun." Luna doesn't have a picture, or even a reference for the mount she plans to have, but it must be out there. The Rowntree library is filled with books that have source on all of these frivolous things.

"Then I'm going to ride my horse to here," she pulls a worn map from the journal and carefully unfolds it. The mark on the top says National Geographic likely the book it was stolen from for there's ancient yellow marks where a strip of glue held it in. She points to a place only a day or two's ride. "There's no town here now, nothing grows there no more but I'm going to go see what's left."

Back up onto the bed while they're in the region anyway, Forge turns himself down into the covers as she sorts through her journal, eyes heavy lidded in their survey of the proferred map. Were there any remaining shred of doubt that he might just be any old cat, it should vanish there, with him following the point of her finger to the place she means.

Unfortunately, everything looks very much the same in two dimensions.

Try. is the directive from afar. Unsympathetic.

The spot on the map is large, indicating that it was once a city of some size, Inverness. "It's not so far, I can slip away and come back before anyone even notices me gone. I'll be much more careful this time 'round, no giant bats or nothing. I'll have a horse so I can run if I need." Luna also doesn't have a map, not a detailed one.

She looks at the cat then, narrowing her eyes slightly and pursing her lips. "You'll not tell on me now, would you? I shared everything last time, this time I want to keep as much as I can."

No of course not. Forge never tells. Neither does Algernon, who occupies the lull in commentary with his pipe. The path beyond Eilean Donan is quiet, tonight. The water is still.

She is suicidal, Forge determines after some careful thought and a long time spent looking up at her face as if trying to see past it. Through it.

Merely delusional.

To the same end.

Ultimately.

This is an inconvenient thread of conversation and they decide independently of each other to leave it there. Like an unsavory smell.

In any case, Forge is comfortable and has yet to make any move to excuse himself. Sometimes it is nice to be in a bed at night.

Luna rolls onto her stomach and flattens the journal out in front of her, laying the map on a page filled with scribbles and blots of ink. Unfinished poetry, likely never to be picked up again. There are more pages with completed thoughts and beautiful bits of flowery rhyme, others with lewd sentiments about her lovers, former and present.

Most of it is ingored in favor of the little drawings and scribbles in the margins. Paper might be a valuable commodity to the woman because she doesn't seem to give any of it up, rather she uses and reuses it until every space is filled with black splotchy ink. She grins toward the cat as he makes himself comfortable, quickly reaching out to give the soft fur a quick smoothing in the right direction. "It's not so far, see? I've worked it all out, food, water, things that I'll need and before I go. From now on, I won't be going so far from home."

He's not coming back, is he?

Pocket watch drawn out and tilted to the moonlight after a span spent waiting to the tune of his horse's breathing, Fogg works his jaw and spurs on. Back into the familiar routine of his patrol. Slightly more alone than usual.

Maybe a little bitter as well.

The irony does not escape him.

In Luna's bed, Forge does see, fur thick enough to lift on its own once it's smoothed. His eyes tilt to slits and his paws fold in beneath the mass of him, one slow after the other.

The prostitute has been flighty for longer than the wildcat or his mage have known her. Thus when she studies the feline out of the corner of her eye, it doesn't take long to finally piece some small details together. The nose, its size is consistent with frosty prints on her former window, his feet are about the same shape as tracks in the snow on her sill.

"Was it you that decided to come back to me? Or did your mage put you up to it?" She wouldn't know so much now there's no physical evidence to indicate it during the summer months. "You were my watcher, the one I was afraid of, weren't you? The thing outside my window at the Dove."

A yawn peels pale chops back from fangs more like nails than needles, rough tongue curled in before a drowsy blink and steadier stare. Forge neither confirms or denies, content to let her weave in and out of her own conclusions while he makes use of her comfy bed.

It's possible, anyway. Even likely.

Either way, after peering impassively back at her for a time, the great stuffy cat sets to grooming at the spaces under and between his toes.

Her hand goes out to ruffle the wildcat behind its ears. "Strange man, so impassive to the world around him. I welcome your company in any case, I don't think Duncan'll be coming up the stairs at all tonight after the row we had, so you'll be safe from his notice." Luna grins and retracts again, turning her nose back into the journal. As she flips the pages, it becomes obvious that the book had a previous owner. The blonde has just been writing over what's already been written and using pages that had been left blank.

After she folds the thing up and tucks it back where it came from, the coverlet and sheets are pulled over her form. "I'll suss you out by morning, mark me, I'll have you figured if I set my mind to it. How many mages could there possibly be in Dornie anyway?"

Forge could peek. But past the odd glance he doesn't try, mind already turned forward to the promise of a quiet night spent in bed while his other half is stuck outside.

He waits for Luna to settle before he shifts to curl against the bump of her knee, eyes never quite closing. Every sketch or pop from the fire draws them open wide. A wooden creak somewhere in the castle draws out a turn of his torn ear.

He'll be gone before she wakes.