A Cat's Tale
'I'll say it first!'
'No, I say it first!'
They are arguing and making a terrible noise again. Can't anyone sleep peacefully here any more? The one with the orange fur and the one with the brown fur, that's them. They're usually annoying together, but they amuse me. Especially because the one with the brown fur is always right and she always stands up for me. Of course, she's my mistress. She'd be a terrible mistress if she didn't defend me.
Although, now that I have my eyes open, I can see it's not them. The one with the brown head is a male, and the orange headed one is a female. They are annoying but amusing, too: my mistress's cubs. I confuse them all the time. Must be getting older.
'Happy birthday, Cooksanks!'
They shout at the same time, but it doesn't make me jump like it used to.
'You know, Hugo, today's not Crookshanks's real birthday,' the girl says. 'That's why I almost forgot. I forgot this morning because it's not his real birthday.'
'Why isn't it his birthday?' the boy asked.
'Because when Mummy got Crookshanks, they didn't know how old he was or when his birthday was. So Mummy decided to make his birthday the day she bought him, so he wouldn't be sad because he didn't have a birthday. Isn't that right, Mummy?'
'It is, sweetie,' said a deeper voice. She sits next to me on the sofa and I purr as she scratches the spot between my ears the way I like.
'Daddy's told me that story about him and Crookshanks lots of times, too. We could ask him to tell it to us both tonight, Hugo!'
'That sounds good, Rosie, but before Daddy arrives and dinner is ready, we all have to work on our homework,' She said. I think of her as She, because there's no one else for me. She was right about marking this day as my birthday; I had found no one before her that cared so much about me. However, She is also called Hermione by most people. Know-it-all and Bookworm were popular at school. I also heard her called Boss a couple of times; then Mummy and Mum. Also Dear, Love and a couple of other things that I actually overheard before being scared out of the room.
'And me?' asked a shrill voice.
'You can draw or look at your books, too, Hugo,' She answered, standing up again as She picked up her boy and took the girl's hand.
They all went to the room where books and portraits and medals have been collecting over the years, where sometimes She works with Him, and sometimes they don't work and I'm put outside. I follow them promptly and curl up on my favourite padded stool.
I wake up at the cry of 'Daddy!', after which follows a ruckus of moving chairs, running feet, shrieks and His voice laughing. He's not my master, but my mistress's partner. I've known him for a long time. I even met him before she found me.
'Daddy, today's Crookshanks's birthday!'
'Of course it is,' I hear him say, before I feel him near and have my fur messed up by his big, careless hands. 'Happy birthday, old fur ball! And many more to come!'
Old fur ball? How dare he! I seem to be getting that a lot lately, from him. I suppose I am rather old and well rounded now, and I take more naps than before. But still! Well, at least now I know he says it in a friendly way. I used to get called 'bloody beast', 'hairy monster', 'pig with hair', and other names which were not meant in a friendly way, and that She never approved of. She said I was clever and handsome.
I follow them to the kitchen nonetheless, since it seems to be dinner time. It's dinner time for me, too. I pretend to be eating my own food until one of her cubs sneaks me some of their food. No wonder I've been getting bigger.
Once they finish their meal, and there are no more morsels for me, I go and eat from my dish. By the time I'm finished, I discover it's only me and him in the kitchen. He's washing the dishes.
'Do you want a hand, Ron?' She says, coming back. Ron, that is his name. That's what she's always called him, ever since I met them at least. I've also heard him called Ronald, and Weasley. I think those are his names, too. At school I heard Mate, Weasel Guy, Weasley King, and some more that I can't remember. She called him Idiot, too, but only when she was alone with me, and often when She was crying. And that was before, anyway. I think they also call him Boss, Dear and Love, too; sometimes I don't know who they are talking to. And Dad or Daddy, the little ones.
'No, love, I've nearly finished here.'
'Kids are clean and waiting for you to tell them a story,' She says, coming up to him with a little smile.
'Really? Which one, this time?' He says, chuckling a little.
'You and Crookshanks.'
'That's a good one.'
'Your version is a good one.'
'Most of the stories we tell them would be either too frightening or too boring in their original form, wouldn't they?'
'I agree. Come on.'
She gives him a kiss and leaves the room, probably to tell her cubsall right, her kidsthat Daddy is about to tell them the story. I stretch, ready to take another nap on the sofa, but he's just wiped his hands on a dishcloth and picks me up. I protest loudly; we have long ago stopped disliking each other, but I still don't enjoy the way he handles me.
'Come on, you scruffy beast, this is your story, too. You can share the credit!'
I suppose he's right. Besides, he gave me a family with her, and I should give him some credit for that.