When Ivory, Bishop and Rihana returned from their trip, the blonde girl barely noticed them. In fact, the only greeting she gave was a grumbled "Welcome back" to the brunette, before she ran to the den, bent on avoiding their teacher. That way she was allowed to have some more time with the small creature before morning when she'd likely have to confront Ivory on the issue of having a pet at the cottage. By the looks of her teacher's tired face when they arrived home, Esther expected her to be a little irritable so she held off on informing Ivory on the presence of one little tabby.
"Besides..." Esther hummed, on the way to her bedroom (after a brief encounter with Bishop). She opened her door, one arm around the almost forgotten tome while the cat played at the strings of her sneakers. "I get to spend more time with you, cuteness," she smiled, gently pushing the cat in with her foot, leaving the door open a crack. Once she discarded herself of her day clothes, she toyed and teased the feline until they both fell asleep; the tabby curled around her hand.
Her lack of activity yesterday had left Esther to wake up earlier than usual, soon after dawn when the sun began to heat up the day's beginning. Her dreams partly had something to do with the early awakening too. Usually, Esther dreams were abstract with different people and different place, all without names, spare for the few that she knew and likely disliked in reality. But the night before her fantasy took on odd form.
Esther, dressed in white, stood at the edge of a cliff with a desert stretched before her. Chairs moved around, circling her and drifting through the air as though strings were attached to them from the sky, acting as an endless ceiling above the girl. At one point she felt something push through; defying the laws of what was natural and breaking past her solid form. The feeling of whatever it was awoke her to a cold, empty hand lying before her on the pillow.
The quickest thing that came to mind was the disappearance of the feline, no longer pressed against the side of palm. "What..." She groaned, moving herself to view the rest of her bed. Her little tabby friend was nowhere to be seen on the covers or under, and the first feeling that impacted her after sleepy confusion was the cold against her bare arms.
Esther's eyes snapped to the open door of her bedroom. "Oh, fudge it!" she almost shrieked, ignoring the dryness of her throat. Hastily she rolled out of bed, tripping over the mess on her floor. The blonde girl didn't care to run a comb through her unruly short hair or of her state of dress, and instead slipped on the shoes she wore previously. Soon after, she ran out of the room wearing only a shirt intended for a boy and brown and purple stripped pants with untied sneakers.
The search for the missing kitten was on, and she tipped through the halls of the cottage. First Esther attempted to check the small corners that a cat would hide in: Under the table, behind the space of a bookcase, and, at one point, a carpet. When that failed, she, like a terrible thief trying to steal a grandfather clock, snuck into rooms with open doors, only popping her head in and making sounds that would catch a cat's attention.
Eventually, her search led her to the longue and she was bending over, looking under the coach when she heard a scoff. Well, not a scoff...more a like an audible growl of irritation. Esther's eyes and body leapt up from the floor and she was (more or less) face to face with a disgruntled looking Bishop, reaching down for the tabby. He was standing under the arch of the door, probably entering or leaving the garden.
"Bishop!" Esther squealed. For once, it seemed, the girl was actually delighted to see Bishop. His head turned to her, the boy's hands holding the kitten up and away from him.
"Esther..." he began, but stopped. He looked from the cat to the girl and back, attempting to grasp at something in his familiar silence.
"This is the same cat you were fiddling with last night, correct?" he finally said.
Esther's annoyance of his blunt tone was somewhat obvious by her arched eyebrow, but she rustled the feeling away by drafting one of her bangs behind her ears. "Yes, and the cat's a he, by the way. Feel free to call him Milo."
Now Bishop was amused. Or curious; the girl couldn't tell. "Milo?"
"Prefer it if I call him Fluffy or Tiger?"
He eyed the cat as it meowed. "I suppose the name fits it." Esther rolled her eyes at him, and went for Milo, but he was pulled from her reach by the boy. She let out a huff of hot air and shrugged away another strand of hair. "Bishop..." she said, her tone threatening, but absolutely unsettled and tired.
"One thing, Esther: I wasn't aware Ivory allowed you to have a...pet." Once his words were said, her lips twitched and the girl shifted her weight from one leg to another. Bishop spotted her answer before she even spoke it.
"You haven't told her." The reply was more of an observation than it was question.
Esther snorted, twisting her face into a frown. "I didn't say that!"
"But you haven't," he argued, his voice firm. Even if she decided to tell him otherwise, Bishop wouldn't believe her especially since Esther was more see-through now than she was ever willing to admit.
"Fine. I haven't told her yet. But I'm going to. Today. I think..." she awkwardly muttered. She lent her hands out, gesturing him to give her Milo. "Can I have my cat back now?"
Bishop looked down at the feline in his hands; the creature's round blue eyes were on the both of them, like it was paying close attention to their conversation. Esther quickly took notice of how unusual his stoic expression seemed this morning, as though he was trying very hard to suppress something. But whatever was bothering him disappeared when Bishop handed her Milo with a plain face, "Here; he was beginning to annoy me."
She took Milo into her cold hands, cuddling the cat in her arms. Her narrowed eyes were stuck on Bishop though. "Okay, now I'm offended. What possibly could my baby have done to irritate you?" she hotly said.
""Your baby"? You've become far too attached to that animal," he mocked, a smirk pulling at his mouth.
"Oh-ho, wait right there smug boy. Answer the question."
Bishop grunted something under his breath, and then glared at Esther for a moment or two before he bluntly replied, "It began to follow me."
Esther just stared. She did not frown or look fiercely at him; she just stared, bewildered. "Oh God, Milo likes you." She said.
Bishop snorted, seemingly amused or unmoved by her discovery. He walked past her, bumping into a shoulder while Esther scowled at his retreating figure. "Yes, but the funny thing is that I don't like Milo," she heard him say as Bishop left the den and headed for the stairs. He could hear the girl following with an adoring expression for the kitten on her face.
"Of course you do. Or will, soon enough."
He grunted. "No."
""No" what?" Esther responded, looking at him curiously. "No you won't like him, or no you don't like him? Which is it?"
"Oh please. Must you be so subtle?" she sniggered. He didn't give her a reply, but his brief silence spoke for itself. They ended up in the hallway that lead to their separate bedrooms, Esther still tailing Bishop while Milo was completely silent in her arms. If Bishop didn't like "her" cat, she would force him to accept the feline. As odd as her behavior may have seemed to the boy, Esther absolutely adored cats.
Her old employer's children had a family pet, poorly named Fluff. Whenever she walked to the mechanic's from school and shrugged off her uniform jacket, Esther would play with Fluff before Mr. Davis called for her. The pet eventually was given to the man's niece as a gift, leaving Esther to cry silently that very same night in her old room. The cat was the only thing at the time that she openly showed affection towards, willingly giving it nicknames and carrying Fluff in her arms when her hands were stained with grease and oil. Admittedly, the time Esther had spent and played with the animal were the cause of the few precious moments that Mr. Davis had seen her smile. And now that she had one of her own, Esther jumped out of her shell in an instance.
A small smile crossed the blonde girl's face as she continued to follow Bishop to the door of his bedroom. Esther soon said, "Let's make a deal, Broody."
"Please don't call me that," he muttered, but she ignored him and continued, "If you help me plead my case to Ivory into letting Milo stay here and watch him when I can't, I'll do something for you."
Esther saw the interest in his face, as the boy watched her skeptically. "Oh? What could you possibly have or do for me?" he said, his curiosity leaning on the side of actually caring what the girl might have to say. The pride-filled grin widened as Esther looked directly at her fellow student. "You know that tome Ivory gifted to me?" He nodded. "Well, you see it's filled with all sorts of treats and mysteries. Not only about object creation, mind you, but I remember skimming through a chapter on form changing too. I believe it was a piece of lore about a form changer. I thought you might want to read it - even share the book with little old me...."
She initially trailed off for a moment, stroking Milo as though she was parodying the Godfather. "So? What do you say, Broody?"