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The Court of the Jellicles

Chapter Text

Chapter One

 

“So, what would you do if you found an alien in the park?” a girl asked laughing while standing next to a door, waiting for the rain to stop outside.

“Well, I would be scared but if it is like E.T. how could I leave it… him there just for mad scientists to experiment on?” the other girl defended her point, amused by the course of their conversation.

It was an ordinary cold evening of mid January in 1983. The sky above London, already shifting from sunset colours to darker blues before the two sisters could have reached the cinema, was now completely black thanks also to the clouds and the heavy rain falling on the city. The two girls had luckily decided to eat something before going back home, and that’s what saved them from getting soaked.

“I think we should try and go now. It’s still raining but we have a few last chances to get to the underground before it closes for the night! I don’t want to go to aunt Gill again, that place stinks.”

The younger one laughed and agreed, grabbing a piece of cardboard that the restaurant owner had let them use to face the rain. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a spare umbrella for them.

The two were very much alike: both had round shaped faces, almond hazel eyes and long brown hair – even if the elder one had it really curly, the total opposite of the sister. If it wasn’t for their faces, though, people could easily mistake the younger one for the elder because she was much taller! However, they really got along well together, and couldn’t be happier to hang around alone without other obnoxious cousins and relatives around them. They had just escaped Christmas holidays full of those people and frankly a girls-only night out at the cinema was perfect to restore balance in the universe.

They began to walk towards Leicester Square station, but something little caught the attention of one of the sisters.

«Look! It’s adorable! And all alone under the rain...» the younger began to follow a black kitten that was walking on the sidewalk.

«We don’t have much time! It’s late!»

«I know, but look at him! I mean I think it’s a him. We can’t leave him alone!»

But as soon the younger placed the cardboard over him, the kitten jumped ahead and began to run.

The two sisters run behind him faster than they could, but the slippery streets were hard to follow. In a matter of minutes the older one noticed that they were wandering through unknown streets, and that was pretty strange since it was the centre of London. But they both loved cats too much and had always wanted one, and that scared and wet kitten, without a collar and running towards places that they were sure were not inhabited… well, they couldn’t let him escape.

The older one was ahead, just a little faster because she had snickers on, but at a certain point she tripped and fall on the ground.

“Ame!” the other one called, worried.

“I’m fine! Damn rain…” everything was almost pitch dark just a few seconds before, but now she could see something in the night.

“Ame… something is wrong.”

As soon as the older managed to sit on the ground, with rain still pouring on them even so lightly, she saw what her sister was talking about. She had not tripped because of the water, but because of what seemed a long striped tail. And that tail was coming from her lower back.

That must have been a dream, a hallucination! Maybe she had hit her head and now was just unconscious because when she got to look up everything seemed so much bigger than it should have been, and her sister was not her sister anymore!

“You… have a tail, and those ears and… you look like a cat! What the hell is happening here?”

“I’m scared. I don’t know what happened, you tripped and…” the little sister looked at herself and screamed as soon as she saw the coat on her legs. She rushed to reach her sister on the ground, trying to find an explanation, but nothing seemed logical.

For a minute they legitimately thought they were dead, for some reason, and couldn’t say a word. They even pinched one another skin and screamed when they realized the situation was real. That was scarier than their worst nightmare.

“I told you a million times! If a human follows you, you run in the opposite direction, not here!” a young male voice came from just metres away from the girls, but both still had to adjust to that type of sight and couldn’t distinguish any shadow.

“But I thought I disappeared! I blended in, I’m totally black. That’s what you thought me!” another voice said.

“I… Oh God I don’t know what to do anymore” the first voice ended with a sigh and then silence fell.

“Shut up, you two, you’ll deal with your problems later.”

From the darkest shadow on the corner, a figure began to rise. It was a lean, standing-up figure approaching them, but neither of the sisters could figure out who that was, or at best they didn’t want to guess. For a moment, they thought they had been drugged and someone was kidnapping them, because their physical appearance didn’t make any sense otherwise.

The younger crawled behind the sister, while she kept her injured arm – she had fallen on her side and now that arm was all scratches and probably blood, from the smell she could feel – in position as to protect her.

A cat that looked like a human, or a human that looked like a cat, just like them, was standing right in front of them. From the height of his impeccably straight position he seemed to judge them, but then he knelt to look straight into their eyes with his own blue ones. He was silver with black stripes, and looked just as surprised as them.

“We told you, Munkustrap” two voices that perfectly blended together in a harmonious sound spoke from behind the cat. Other two cats, brown and cream, moved as one behind him: they were curious too and wanted to have a hint of what was happening.

“Thank you, Coricopat and Tantomile, you can go back, but don’t tell the others, you know what happened last time.”

And as silently as they arrived, they disappeared.

“What last time? What’s happening? Who are you? What did you do to us?” the older sister uttered those four questions almost quicker than she could have thought them. She was absolutely clueless and terrified by the situation. How was that even real?

“You are humans, right?” he sniffed twice and tilted his head to understand, even if he knew what was happening “You’re in the Court of the Jellicles. What are your names?”

At least they knew where they were, but that wasn’t comforting at all not any less confusing. The sisters quickly swallowed and looked at each other, and with a simple nod agreed that they could reveal their names. There was no chance all of that was real.

“I’m Amethyst, and this is my sister Jacinth,” the older told him. His behaviour didn’t seem threatening, so she slightly approached and tried to not blink, trying to let the idea of the strange features of his body sink in.

He didn’t react to that movement, he just stood still in his position and let her look at him. He liked their names, names of precious gems, and could see how it affected their transformation into cats, but he believed that was not the time and the place to point out such a silly thing

“I know this is odd and I don’t think there’s another way to explain it but… no human is allowed here, in the Court of the Jellicles. In fact, it’s so well hidden that just a Jellicle cat should be aware of its location,” he turned for an instant and angrily looked at the black kitten behind him – who now looked humanoid too – who brought the girls there “and I’m truly sorry.”

“Sorry about what? If we walk away we will just come back to normal humans, right? We won’t say a thing, even because I still don’t believe it” Jacinth said, full of hope.

“I’m afraid that is not how it works. You’re…” he sighed “you’re stuck now” his voice was hesitant. It was so difficult for him to accept that it happened again and the news had to be absolutely hideous for them, so he hoped his tone of voice showed how sorry he was because there were really no other words to say what was happening.

“No way! There must be something! We can’t be cats! It’s not physically possible!” the thing was driving Amethyst crazy, but when no one replied to say she was right, the whole world crumbled down her shoulder.

“We are cats,” Jacinth said with a blank expression. She had always loved those animals but that was far from everything she could have thought possible.

All of a sudden, every single detail of the dark alley became clear, and both of the sisters could feel the presence of other cats nearby, just behind the corner. They were frozen though; they didn’t seem able to move at all. Their family, their friends, they thought about everyone they would have never been able to see again, or talk to, but in those first moments they didn’t even quite grasp how much those things were important because they were too busy trying to understand.

“So… what now?” Amethyst asked.

“Follow me. I think I should introduce you to the other Jellicle cats and then talk about this… situation” Munkustrap showed them the way.

“No, wait, wait. Why do you all keep saying the word ‘cat’? Okay, tails, ears up here, coat, but I still have my hands and feet, I don’t meow and you… you were standing up on two legs before. And what’s a Jellicle?”

The pace her mind was working on was astounding. Munkustrap smiled to Amethyst and reached out to help her while he stood up again. “A Jellicle cat is what you just described. When a Jellicle looks at another Jellicle, he or she sees exactly what you’re seeing right now. But when a human looks at a Jellicle, they’ll just see a normal cat.”

Things started to make sense, and Amethyst accepted the help while another cat, a tuxedo car that the girls figured had to be the one who scolded the kitten before, helped her sister. Jacinth closely followed the step of the others, looking down, not daring to be curious.

«Do you think this is real?»

Amethyst shrugged and didn’t know what to answer. It was unbelievable but they were there, nothing looked like it was staged, and the hands they grasped to stand up seemed very real. At a certain point, the older froze and looked at her body again, as struck by a thought: where were her clothes? She was so busy thinking if that possible that she had completely forgot.

“What’s wrong?” Munkustrap turned around and asked, feeling she wasn’t walking by his side anymore.

“I… our clothes…” but moments later she realized that no one there was wearing a single piece of fabric! She felt naked and exposed, and she didn’t like that feeling at all, but she noticed that her new soft coat was thick and not a single spot of her skin was exposed.

Jacinth had the same odd feeling when the sister pointed out what was missing, and quickly moved her arms in front of her body as if she wanted to cover something. But there was nothing to cover, not from the Jellicles’ point of view who looked at them confused.

“We don’t need clothes” the tuxedo cat stated calmly, as if that was the most normal thing of the world, not grasping the concept of how important were clothes for humans.

“You haven’t introduced to the ladies yet, right?” Munkustrap suggested while going ahead to be sure not too many cats were in the little square they were about to reach.

“Right, my bad!” he hit his forehead with his hand and then theatrically bowed in front of them “I’m Mr. Mistoffelees, magician” his hand was now pointing at the little kitten who had been following them ever since they arrived but was too scared to say a word “and I guess this is who caused you this terrible trouble: Dunkel.”

Jacinth instinctively laughed at his expressions and movements. She didn’t know if she was truly amused or it was more of a nervous laughter. Anyway, she was happy because it served as an amazing outburst since she felt she was so overwhelmed she was about to cry.

Amethyst took her sister’s hand, seeking for something to comfort her. She was older, she was supposed to be the strongest one, but she felt like crumbling inside. Her sister’s hand was almost exactly like when human. It was softer, a little hair covered the back of it but it was almost unnoticeable. She was glad at least one part of them was still the same, and she hoped her own face was still recognizable like Jacinth’s was.

“We’re here: this is the centre of the Court of the Jellicles!” Munkustrap exclaimed walking into the huge square. Well, for them it was huge, but it was really tiny in reality, and not even a proper square: just a space between buildings that was bigger than a normal street. It was also really close to a little junkyard, with strange items scattered all over the border.

Amethyst and Jacinth looked around surprised to see cats talking to each other, some standing on two feet and some comfortably sat on the cold stone. There was not a lot of them, and Jacinth guessed it must have been because of the rain.

The rain! It had completely stopped and they didn’t even notice when, though it must have been as soon as they turned because the cats that had rescued them were almost completely dry while their wet coat shone under the moonlight.

Munkustrap gave them a reassuring glance and walked them towards a higher spot of the square made of piled trash bins and big metal objects.

“Jellicles, I have an announcement! Come and listen, because tonight we welcome two new members of the Jellicle tribe. These are Amethyst and Jacinth!”

Suddenly, every cat in the place was gathered around him and Amethyst was deeply astonished by that. He hadn't screamed, instead, his voice was clear and firm but gentle. She liked how he introduced them, though she was still rather shocked.

“Oh, poor dear, you’re wounded! What was that?” an adult queen walked on all fours to reach them more quickly and then gently stroked Amethyst’s arm.

“I just tripped.”

“Tripped? How?”

Munkustrap thoughtfully licked his lips and looked down at the other cats. He jumped from the odd podium and stepped between the two sisters.

“Queens, toms, I have something to tell you. Most of you kittens can’t remember this has already happened, but you, Jellylorum, most certainly can” he looked at the queen nursing the wounds “They were humans.”

A general gasp rose among the little crowd.

“Humans? How did they find us? Are there others?”

Everyone started to murmur and the murmuring turned into a rather annoying noise for Jacinth. She began to feel attacked and wanted to escape at that exact moment: she realised just then how bad the situation was. She hadn’t thought about that awful downside. Amethyst noticed her upset expression and squeezed her hand harder to make her feel she was there. The two looked in each other’s eyes and Amethyst mouthed “it’s okay” and she was really trying to convince even herself of that. That was their condition now and they had to embrace it one way or another, even if the hope it was just a huge dream was still inside their minds.

“No! There are no others, but there’s nothing to worry about, okay? I’m not here to introduce you to two humans who turned into cats, I’m here to introduce you to our two new queens in the tribe. They’re not different from us.” Munkustrap knew it wouldn’t have been easy to make them understand that, but he had to find a way. He knew the two sisters wouldn’t have had a simple life there, and he hated when he had to deal with that aspect of the tribe. But it was his duty as he was the chief there, it was his duty because he was one of the most open-minded toms there and he knew his father, Old Deuteronomy, would have said the same things if he was there.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWO

Jacinth and Amethyst deeply appreciated how the silver tabby was trying to calm down the murmuring cats. It was already hard for them to accept the situation, they didn’t need anyone to speculate.

“So… it is not a legend! It can happen.” A kitten spoke from behind the crowd. He was all brown and had really big blue eyes.

“Yes, it can, it did and it probably will again in the future, but since it’s something possible there’s nothing to worry about.” Munkustrap smiled at the kitten, trying to make him understand that yes, it may seem strange and shouldn’t happen, but it was natural somehow.

The kitten looked confused and not really happy with the answer, but then just turned and jumped away, not really caring a lot about it. He didn’t like them anyway and didn’t want to hear more about it.

Munkustrap cleared his voice, definitely understanding the meaning of that action, but didn’t go after him nor tried to ask him to come back. He, instead, promised himself to go and reason with him later: he knew that kitten and couldn’t let him run away like that, but didn’t even want the two sisters to think he could have been a problem.

Amethyst, in the meanwhile, looked at Jellylorum who was almost finished nursing her wounds.

“Try to not roll on it, dear, or it might get infected,” she said with a kind smile, not at all affected by the fact she was human.

“Thank you very much, Jelly…”

“Jellylorum!” she patted on her shoulder and then stepped back again in the little crowd.

New cats were now gathering around them, and Jacinth looked at them with the same fear some looked at her. She was just 17, she wanted to go back home and not to feel so judged by cats. Cats! She felt totally out of place and knew that even if one was trying to convince the others to accept them, 20 cats didn’t agree with him. She didn’t feel totally out of place, she was totally out of place.

“I’m Skimbleshanks, nice to meet you!” a tall ginger cat with a brown gilet took their hands and shook them vigorously. “I’m sorry I can’t stay any longer, I’m really late, you see?” he took out his pocket watch and frantically showed it briefly to them before running away faster than the fastest cat.

The two sisters hinted a laugh and so did Munskustrap: on one hand because Skimble’s hurry was always funny, on the other because he was glad the tension was beginning to break thanks to him.

“You won’t see him around a lot, he’s always running and standing by the railway. But he’s very friendly! Just remember to be on time if you have to meet him.” Munkustrap explained, much more relaxed.

While a few uninterested kittens slowly walked away, two queens walked towards the three of them. They were not as happy as Skimbleshanks, but while one seemed to be snooty the other one had a kind expression. Their poise was impeccable and Amethyst was a bit jealous: she felt clumsy in that body and she was sure it was not just a feeling. Not that she ever was a perfectly graceful human being.

“My name is Demeter, and this is my best friend Bombalurina” the golden orange one pointed at the fiery red queen next to her. If she didn’t point out, Jacinth would have thought those two were related.

Demeter’s eyes lingered on Munkustrap for a few seconds, as if she was about to add something else, but then, right after they both bowed their heads to greet them, they quickly and silently dismissed themselves to found a spot where they could confabulate not heard by anyone.

“Coricopat and Tantomile, right?” Jacinth asked scanning through the remaining cats, remembering the names of the two they had seen in the dark alley.

“Yes!” they answered together once again. The two twins were really happy she remembered their name, for they were pretty unusual even for a Jellicle Cat.

Suddenly, though, while a few more toms were trying to introduce themselves – some forcing handshakes and some genuinely trying – most of the queens in the square turned and faced a roof. Their attention was drawn by something and most of them, especially the kittens, began to meow and moan loudly. Amethyst and Jacinth couldn’t hide they were pretty scared by that odd behaviour but tried to understand if they could see something in the same direction that could justify it. Maybe it was a dog? Maybe some other animal? At that thought, Amethyst instinctively took a step forward to cover her little sister.

“Oh God, not now…” Munkustrap exhaled slightly irritated, scratching his forehead with his paw.

“What? Is there something wrong?” Amethyst asked, confused by his reaction and Mr Mistoffelees’ one, who rolled his eyes and laughed at the same time.

“Nothing wrong, just a terrible bore,” and I hope he won’t bother you too he added in his mind.

Amethyst and Jacinth looked one another and relaxed, while a figure jumped from the roof and walked toward the pile of bins and other stuff. He was slender and his black coat contributed to make him appear even thinner. He had some large golden areas on his chest and legs and arms, and there also leopard spots. His hair was longer than other cats’, and just then the newbies noticed that the cats’ coat was almost identical, never too long, and the real difference was really noticeable looking at the hair.

“You’re gathering without me?” he said winking at some kittens who immediately started to meow louder.

When he reached them, one could also see that he was a little bit taller than Munkustrap, who was already pretty tall.

“I’ve heard you were doing presentations and I thought I might join… and I’m glad I did!” he took Jacinth’s hand and almost kissed the back of it with showy elegance, just to do the same thing with Amethyst seconds later “I’m the Rum Tum Tugger, and you are?”

Amethyst could now see the reason for the two tom’s reaction. That had to be the Don Juan of the Jellicles, she thought.

“I’m Amethyst.”

“And I’m Jacinth” the sister added right away, stepping now forward since she understood there was no danger. She was quite flattered, unlike the sister.

“Oh yes, I see, Amethyst and Jacinth… it’s written in your beautiful eyes.”

Amethyst became nervous and kept herself from rolling her eyes: she never liked guys like him, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t nice, even if that wasn’t something she needed to discover right in that moment since she had greatest issues to think about.

“Tugger! I’m sorry, but I’m sure it’s not the right place and time. Not that it ever is but now more than ever.” Munkustrap could see the uneasiness in Amethyst eyes and hurried to reach out and gently take Rum Tum Tugger’s wrist to push it from her paw.

“Brother, why do you always kill the joy of the party?”

“It’s not a party-”

“But there are two new queens in town!” He interrupted him. “We have to party” and when he smiled and turned, some queens sighed in adoration.

“Mr Tugger… I think you missed an important detail here” Jacinth shily spoke, trying not to be too harsh with the news.

“There’s no need to call me Mr., but tell me!”

“Well, we… we are, were, humans” she finally said, and saw the joy in his eyes being rapidly replaced by surprise. She couldn’t tell if it was good or bad, though.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Munk?” he asked, still trying to process the info.

“I was trying but you wouldn’t listen because you are too busy hitting on them” was it possible, thought Munkustrap, that he constantly had to deal with him acting like that in every circumstance? He was his brother and he loved him but sometimes he just wanted him to understand how to act properly. If something was to happen to him, Tugger was the second in the line of succession.

“Well, they’re beautiful anyway, can you blame me?” and he thought that! He didn’t care at all that they were humans. And actually, even if inappropriate, that was encouraging for the sisters.

“Tug, enough” Munkustrap was about to lose his temper.

“Okay, okay,” Rum Tum Tugger gave up, far from being angry. Sometimes he acted like that on purpose to annoy his brother; he could have told him to stop a hundred times but it was too funny to see him getting mad at him. But maybe he was right that time, so he winked one last time at them and then turned around. He just then noticed that Bombalurina was staring at him from afar and he quickly reached her.

Jacinth and Amethyst stared at the now empty area before them. No cat was left to be introduced, or at least no other cared about it, and the sisters were also pretty sure there had to be more Jellicles that just weren’t present that night. They had to have homes: a lot of them had collars and it was just logical to think that not every cat left the house during the night. In any way, too many things already happened in just a few hours and the two new queens were happy they had not to fake a smile anymore. At least, Amethyst was.

Jacinth seemed to be distracted by The Rum Tum Tugger’s compliments and lost in the thought of Tantomile and Coricopat’s magical synchrony. She missed home but she was young and saw the whole situation as a playful adventure, maybe sure that there was a way to be turned back into humans.

Amethyst was upset, on the other hand. The magic of the situation – because that was pure magic to her – affected and yet not so much. She had always been comfortable in her everyday routine, she had always liked to plan out things and was not thrilled by the unexpected. Besides, what that other cat, that Rum Tum Tugger, had said still echoed in her ears. He told her and her sister they had beautiful eyes and now she couldn’t help but think about her aspect. She could see her sister, but for some reason, she didn’t want to look at her closely: she didn’t want to look at her in the eyes, she didn’t want to look at her at all because she was afraid of not recognizing her.

In Amethyst’s mind, her sister was still that cute seventeen-year-old girl with beautiful long hair and chocolate eyes. She knew she had a ginger-ish coat now, but she was so shocked that she still didn’t want to admit it and didn’t want to acknowledge all the new and different details about her because that would have meant accepting the situation.

But what about herself? Was she a ginger cat too? It seemed the most logical thing since her sister was, but she wasn’t sure. When she took the first look at her tail, when she tripped on it, she just noticed it was dark, nothing more. She didn’t know how she looked like and she was afraid of discovering it and yet very curious.

“So that was your brother? For real?” Jacinth asked while Amethyst was lost in those thoughts.

“Yes! Younger brother, actually.” Munkustrap answered.

“He’s very different from you, I wouldn’t have told.”

“Ah, yeah, he’s always been more… dissolute. But you’ll get to know him! He’s better than this, I swear.” He laughed, thinking about their childhood together running around and being caught playing pranks. “First of all, we have to figure out where you can stay and rest. And of course, I’m also here to answer any question…”

His sentence fell into the void. He wanted to tell them he knew it would have been difficult for them to adapt to the new world, but, in fact, he didn’t know and didn’t want to sound hypocrite.

“You sound like this happened more than twice… you said this happened just another time in the past” Jacinth was curious to know everything about those curious cats.

“And it’s true, but there are many things that my father, the leader of the tribe, taught me. You see, Jellicles are gifted with an extremely long life and he’s grown very wise. I’ve learned the hard way that no one gets to be left behind in this Jellicle tribe, and you are no threat so why shouldn’t I try to give you the best welcome?” Munkustrap lowered his gaze and began to walk.

Jacinth and Amethyst, although the latter was still a bit lost in her thoughts, smiled at the kindness of the tom. They began to feel lucky in their misfortune.

“So, if your father is the leader you are…”

“The leader while he’s not here” he answered with no sign of arrogance in his voice but the slightest and right hint of pride.

“Can I ask you a thing?” Amethyst finally spoke, and they all stopped walking and turned to her. She had an insecure expression but she wanted to know.

“Sure”

“Do you have a mirror around here or something like that? I want to know what I look like, if that’s possible. I know it’s stupid, but I’m dying to know,” Amethyst admitted shyly. She wasn’t vain but it was important to her at that moment.

“Yeah, I want to know too! And by the way, Ame, you look good! Better than human” the sister laughed, and that joke apparently broke again the tension because Amethyst laughed too. That was an odd situation but to be stuck there with her sister was the best she could have asked.

“Always very kind!” she ironically answered and placed her arm around her shoulders.

She looks good indeed , Munkustrap thought but kept it for himself. He was not like his brother, but he couldn’t deny she was pretty. And so was her sister, but she was just a kitten and nothing more; at least she looked like a kitten. The tom noticed he hadn’t asked how old they were, and it was important for the Jellicle Ball, even though it still was really far.

“Yes, of course, we have one, and it’s a legitimate question anyway. Follow me!” He jumped on all fours to be faster but didn’t think about the fact the sisters were not used to that and when he was already halfway to where he knew there was a mirror, the two of them were still trying to figure out how not to trip. Turned out, Jacinth was a particularly fast learner, and Amethyst was not surprised at all.

“I’m sorry, I’m so clumsy” the older apologized when she managed to reach them and laughed nervously.

“You’ll get used to it! We won’t run for now” Munkustrap kept leading them through a dark alley that spread from the square.

When they reached a street lamp, he rummaged behind an empty garbage can and pulled out a big piece of a broken mirror. It was a bit dusty, so he blew on it and then lay it against the wall.

Amethyst thanked him and then approached the object, slowly. Surprisingly, she discovered she was a silver tabby cat, not really different from Munkustrap but noticeably female and with a larger white area on her chest. She was not thin, but she liked her body and she was relieved when she noticed it was, in fact, identical to her human body. She was also happy that hair covered everything, like for the other queens she met, and the fact that she didn’t need clothes started to give her a warm sensation of freedom. Her coat was her dress and it was all striped in black.

She took another step forward, and she could touch the mirror with her hand. Her face had the same features of always, and yet it was completely different. It was of the whitest white she had ever seen, and when she touched it with her fingertips no hair was there apart from her whiskers – that were not, in fact, hair. For a moment, she thought that the stripes on her cheeks and on her forehead were just mere makeup, but even if she tried to rub it away, they remained there. That was her new face and the most shocking detail was there: her eyes were no longer brown. A shiny purple took its place. Amethyst blinked more than once, convinced it couldn’t be possible and it was some sort of effect given by the lights and the shadows, but she had to give up and believe that was her new eye colour. It was so odd.

But that was enough, for her. She had what she wanted and, overall, she was not so upset with how she looked. Her sister was right, she was prettier as a cat. Behind her, reflected in the mirror, she could see Jacinth and the different height that hadn’t changed. She stepped back and gave her sister the possibility to admire herself.

The pattern on her red coat, for under the streetlamp the colour was more vivid and distinguishable, was really similar to her sister’s apart from some places where she was more spotted than striped. Her hair was almost unnoticeably longer and more tamed, and she was definitely thinner. Her paws were covered in dark red and she tried hard to make her claws pop out, without success. The same stunningly different detail was found on her face: among the white and pale pink skin and the red stripes, two golden eyes were shining. Now she understood why the Rum Tum Tugger said that he could see their names in their eyes: because their eyes were of the exact same colour of the gems they carried the name of.

“I had never seen a cat with violet eyes,” Amethyst said, curious about that strange feature. She felt different, unique, but she wondered if it was normal for a Jellicle cat.

“Me neither, I would say they’re are unique, not rare” the answer came from Munkustrap.

The tom walked towards her and looked at her eyes. It was indeed something he had never ever seen in his Jellicle life. Amethyst blushed a bit, although she didn’t know if cats blushed. For sure she felt like she did. Luckily, a second later a loud sound caught the attention of the three, and she didn’t have to hide her face.

The bells of a near church echoed in the alley with twelve strokes. It was midnight and they didn’t even notice.

Munkustrap jumped in the direction they came from and the two sisters lost interest in the mirror and followed him. This time, they were able to run behind him, even if not as fast as him.

In no time they reached the church where the bells were ringing. No one was out on the street, even if they had clearly left the Court of the Jellicles and were back where humans lived.

“Victoria! Come here!” Munkustrap called from the pavement on their side of the lane.

Suddenly, a completely white cat who was dancing next to the church stopped and turned her face to follow the voice who had called her. Surprise was painted on her lips.

“Come here, it’s late!” Munkustrap pointed at the big clock and Victoria quickly jumped and reached them.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t notice.”

“Don’t worry, go back home now,” he added with a gentle voice patting on her head, and seconds after she left them.

“I thought cats lived during the night” Jacinth pointed out, surprised by what Munkustrap ordered. She was stunned by her movements even for how briefly she was able to watch her dance. She was a ballet dancer herself and loved how Victoria moved: she wanted to know her. The thought of still being able to dance was thrilling.

“Yes, but do you see that black cat between those two pillars?”

The two sisters nodded, watching the black figure shrugging and slowly walking into the church.

“That’s Frollo, the priest’s cat, and we don’t like how he stares at the dancing cats in front of the church.” Munkustrap explained, walking back.

Amethyst and Jacinth silently followed him back to the Court of the Jellicles. They were cats but they had just lived their last human day so they were pretty tired at that time. Jacinth yawned sonorously when she stepped on the square.

“Are you tired, Jay?” her sister asked.

“Very much,” she yawned again nodding and brushing her eyes with the back of her paws “where can we rest?”

Munkustrap lead them to a big hole in a wall and brought two pieces of bed sheet from a tall pile of fabric.

“It’s not much, but it’s comfy. I sleep here myself from time to time, when I don’t walk back home, during the day.” He said, shoving the bed sheets in place and smiled. “Anyway, you can stay here. Or you can just sleep wherever you want, you are cats now, but here no one will bother you.”

“Thank you, Munkustrap,” Amethyst took his hand and looked at him the eyes. His were of a beautiful and deep blue “Thank you for everything tonight.”

The two of them had entered that place scared and completely lost, and Amethyst didn’t know how to make him understand that what he did and what he said was highly appreciated. If it wasn’t for him, they would have run somewhere or could have met God know what dangers.

Munkustrap bowed, happy he managed to somehow make that event a bit less traumatic.

“Goodnight!” he waved and walked just a little further to meet with Mr Mistoffelees. Night had just begun for them.

“Goodnight” they answered.

Both Jacinth and Amethyst wanted to talk and try to understand how to deal with the whole problem, with the fact they left their family alone, but both decided that it was better to sleep and think about it well rested and with the light of the day.