Word count: 800 (1 to 6 minutes) | Rating: G | Characters: Hubert von Vestra
He believed himself to be an adaptable person, at least in the logical sense. Strategizing in the field necessitated it, and Hubert had refined that talent with ruthless dedication over the course of his life and education. What that did not include was preparation for one of his more sentimental agents delivering a stray kitten in a box along with his report. While unprecedented deliveries did occur from time to time, they were typically of a more practical and less feline nature.
The small creature stumbled about its box, mewling as it had been since he walked with it to his quarters. He stood at the bedside in his nightclothes and stared down at it blinking slowly at him. Perhaps it was tired. But why make so much noise, then?
The decision to keep it in his room was strictly rational. He could hardly release a stray white kitten onto the monastery grounds unmonitored, where any of the current strays may decide they didn’t appreciate the newest addition to their ranks. The unreasonable hour meant he couldn’t simply pass the creature off to someone who was more nurturing by disposition, regrettably. Hubert had never owned pets before. A cat was one of few to hold his interest, and he researched their care extensively to prove his readiness for the task. His father claimed they were impractical and a distraction, and Hubert was focused on the path he would carve out for Edelgard not long after. His skills were best applied to the ongoing war for Her Majesty—not the safekeeping of a young cat whose head was overly large for its body.
“Do you intend to do this all night?” The moment he spoke to the clearly uncomprehending kitten, he felt foolish for doing so. Still, that bought him a moment of silence as if the kitten was reflecting on a response. It wasn’t, of course. Meeting his green eyes with its own, it offered yet another soft meow. Its teeth were thin and clearly sharp, not yet ready for the birds and rodents than an adult cat might hunt.
“Very well,” he relented with a sigh. “Let’s have a look at you, shall we?”
He thought it may be an injury causing its distress, but it seemed to be in good health. Not injured or ill. Closer examination confirmed that it was likely female. All her teeth had come in, and she stared up at him curiously. The common perception of cats as inquisitive held truth, apparently. Linhardt might be the better option for her future caregiver in that case. They could take cat naps in the sun and investigate frivolous matters together. Seemingly sensing the invitation to cause mischief, the kitten slipped from his hand and climbed up his sleeve with impressive balance and speed to settle onto his shoulder.
“You can’t sleep there,” he informed her again, knowing the fruitlessness of it as much as ever. In the privacy of his own quarters for a single night, it could be best for Hubert to embrace the unfortunate habit. Come morning, someone would surely take her off his hands. There’d be no need to concern himself with trivialities such as that afterwards. Reaching up to her and scooping her gently, Hubert nested her in the crook of his arm and turned to bed. “But I believe there’s ample space to share this for the night.”
The mother cat’s litter must have simply been too large for her to support, and she’d been forced to make a choice: sacrifice the one for the good of the many. Or perhaps it was the correct time for the kitten to strike out on her own. Given the ongoing war, she was not alone in searching for shelter during challenging times. Whatever the reason for her appearance near Garreg Mach for his agent to uncover, the young cat would require physical and emotional contact with humans to develop into a properly socialized kitten. The ally who chose to care for her would undoubtedly be grateful for his pragmatic foresight.
Therefore, she remained nestled in his arm as Hubert went under the sheets, placing them over himself and the kitten alike. A quiet purr began as she took short steps to sleep on his chest instead.
“No need to worry,” he assured the kitten, talking softly due to the time of night. Relative to her size as well, he supposed. “You are scarcely the first here to experience hardship. You will be in good company, Elpis.”
A name would make discussing her with potential owners simpler, after all.