It was a crisp, winter afternoon. The sun sprinkled its rays through the clouds, causing the light snowfall to sparkle like a thousand diamonds. Bare tree branches seemed as though they were hung with jewels, and even the old decrepit junkyard seemed to have gained a surreal beauty.
Into this scene came trotting a young queen, her downy black fur dusted with snow. Her delicate lips were nearly blue with the cold, and she shivered slightly as she walked.
Her eyes were a brilliant gold, and she would have probably been more striking if not for the gray streak that ran up her nose, forming an odd star on her forehead.
Perhaps it was the cold that led her to seek shelter in unknown territory; perhaps it was something else all together. For whatever reason, she tentatively approached the junkyard, weeding her way lithely among the iced over trash, and finally coming out into a clearing at the center.
At first, she didn't notice the other cats that were curled up snugly around the clearing. However, the fact that there were other inhabitants became much clearer when a large silver tabby jumped down in front of her with a scowl on his face.
She gave a small shriek and leapt back, tripping over her tail and tumbling to land in the snow on the ground.
"Who might you be?" the tabby asked gruffly. "And why are you here?"
"Shamira," she stammered, looking up at him with wide eyes. "I'm sorry, I... I mean, I was just... It's awfully cold out, I was hoping to get warm..."
His hazel eyes softened slightly and he sighed. "Well..." Holding out a paw, he helped her to her feet. "I'm Munkustrap."
"Hello," she said shyly.
As if his seeming acceptance of her was a signal to the others, Shamira found herself suddenly accosted by what had to be every cat in the junkyard.
"Poor dear, you're frozen half solid," a motherly looking orange tabby said, looking the straggly queen up and down and clucking her tongue.
"Do you want to play?" another asked her, the kitten's expression completely guileless and innocent.
"Are you gonna be a Jellicle now?" another kitten asked her. "Munkustrap, is she gonna be a Jellicle now?"
Feeling a little overwhelmed by all the questions, Shamira turned, seeking for a way out of the crowd. The attention didn't seem so much on her as about her and it was easy enough to slip out of the thick of the crowd.
Suddenly, Shamira felt her head bump into someone and she looked up, an apology on her lips. A tom stood there, his light blue eyes pleasantly surprised at having been run into.
"Hello," he said, smiling in a dopey sort of way that was yet somehow endearing. "Don't mind them, they can be a little stifling at times. I'm Mistoffelees."
"Shamira," she replied, her voice soft with shyness. A shiver split her words and Mistoffelees looked at her, concerned.
"How stupid of me, standing here chatting with you and you're freezing. Here, come with me..." Mistoffelees took her paw and dragged her over to the side of the clearing, rather proudly presenting her a small nook filled with old blankets. "There. You can sleep here, it should warm you up in no time."
"Thank you..." she said softly, uncertain how to react to the blatant display of kindness. The desire for warmth and sleep took over any rational thought, and she crawled into the nest, curling into a tight ball.
Soon, she was blissfully asleep.
The next morning, Mistoffelees sat, lounging on the tire next to Tantomile and Coricopat. Shamira was sitting alone, sunbathing, and idly washing her tail. They had all supposed that, the cold night being over, Munkustrap would tell her to leave, but he had done no such thing.
"Isn't she beautiful?" Mistoffelees sighed, resting his chin on a paw and gazing with mooncalf eyes at the queen. "Oh, she's looking over here.... Cori, you think she's looking at me?!"
Coricopat looked at Shamira, then at Mistoffelees. "Nope. I think she's looking at me."
Mistoffelees turned to look at Tantomile. "Well? Which one of is she looking at?"
Tantomile looked at Shamira, then hid a grin behind her paw. Quirking an eyebrow, she said, "Not to burst your bubbles, boys, but I'm pretty sure she's not looking at either of you."
"Dangit," they muttered in unison and went back to queen-gazing.
Later that day, Mistoffelees wandered over to Shamira. "Hey."
She looked up at him and smiled. "Hey, there, Mistoffelees. What's up?"
Mistoffelees scuffed his paw on the snow. "Well... I was kinda sorta wondering if you might like to, y'know..."
"No, actually, I don't know," Shamira said, looking at him with wide eyes.
"Y'know, uhm... go out for dinner tonight, you know, like, on a date."
Shamira's smile faltered slightly and she looked at him apologetically. "Oh, I'm sorry, Mistoffelees. I really couldn't."
His face fell. "Oh."
"I really am sorry."
He nodded vaguely. "I understand... no, really. I'll, uhm... just be going now..."
"That was kind of cruel..." Tantomile said, walking up to Shamira. The stray looked after the magical tom with a thoughtful look.
"I didn't mean it to be. But you're right."
Tantomile grinned. "I can't say I'm sorry to see him get turned down though, for once. Now." She looked at Shamira. "You've been staring at me all day. Is there something you wanted to say to me?"
Shamira actually blushed. "Uhm... actually... do you know a place where we could talk in private?"
"And then she just turned you down? Just like that?" Coricopat asked Mistoffelees.
Mistoffelees nodded morosely. "Yeah. Totally snubbed."
"Man..." Coricopat breathed in empathy. He paused for a minute, then perked up. "Oh well, sucks to be you - think she'd date me?"
Mistoffelees glowered at his friend and Coricopat tried to look innocent.
"Sooo..." Coricopat said, looking for some way to change the subject. "Have you seen Tantomile lately?"
Mistoffelees shook his head. "Nope. Not since before I talked to Shamira."
Coricopat paused. "That's odd. Shamira's gone too. I wonder where..."
"We're right behind you," Tantomile said dryly and both toms whirled around. Both Tantomile and Shamira were standing there, Shamira's arm draped around the shorter queen's shoulders.
"Wow, Tant, you, uhm... you look happy..."
Tantomile smiled innocently at her brother. "Oh, well, I just thought you might want to be the first one to know, seeing as we're brother and sister and all..."
"Know what?" Coricopat asked dumbly, exchanging a glance with Mistoffelees. The tux merely shrugged and they looked back at Tantomile and Shamira.
"Well, actually, I just don't know how to put this..." Tantomile started, her expression thoughtful. Shrugging, she flung her arms around Shamira and kissed her.
Coricopat and Mistoffelees had a look on their faces that probably resembled what one would look like if rapped in the forehead with a two-by-four. When the couple parted, Shamira took note of their stunned expressions.
"What can I say, boys," she said sweetly. "It was love at first sight."
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