(123-04-25) Mercy Bath
Mercy Bath
Summary: Forces are combined to give a street cat a bath. Plus metaphors.
Date: 26/04/2016
Related: Kitten Club, Seen and Unseen

Lower Garden - The Hightower

Battle Island

The bottom two levels, giving some forty-five feet of height to the tower, are below, and the next tier of the white stone structure looms above. The second tier is narrower than the first, and the roof-space left behind supports this garden. It's a large ring, some twenty-five feet from the wall to the interior of the tower to the battlements at the roof edge. There's a paved walk along those crenellations, but the rest of the space has been floored in rich deep soil.

The garden has two winding paths around the rings, twisting among beds of flowers and blossoming shrubs. They bloom profusely, and in every colour. A few small fountains are nestled amid the plants. The soil is not deep enough for large trees, so there are canopies of colourful fabric to create the shady spots. White stone benches and tables grace the shaded areas. Still, the rich earth is deep enough for small trees, and little plum trees and spreading berry bushes offer their sweets on some months.

There's a games court on the Western side of the ring. The Butterfly Garden is on the South side.

The day is still lovely; ideal for spending time in the Hightower's Lower Garden. Away from the walking paths, chatting ladies, and boys playing the games court, a spot for a more unusual activity has been chosen: one that makes perfect sense, to Lady Marsei, if perhaps not Camillo, who is sourcing supplies for their particular task. Marsei sits on the bench beneath a gathering of trees in the shade, the basket borrowed from Esme at her feet. She has removed the grey cloak within and could not leave well enough alone until Camillo returns, leaning down to pet and softly talk to the tiny, bedraggled feline within while it tries determinedly to clamber out.

Camillo at last appears with a basin that he has, perhaps foolishly, already filled with water. At least about up to the height of the kitten's chest, or thereabouts. Spying Lady Marsei, he brings the basin in that direction, and sets it on the ground a little distance from the basket. Then he takes off the bag he often carries. "It's lavender you thought would be best, my lady?"

All of her attention on the little animal, Marsei doesn't seem to notice Camillo's approach until he sets the basin of water down. "Oh!" she exclaims with a smile. "Yes!" In the fleeting moment in which she looked up from the basket, the kitten has hopped free and takes off in a lop-sided run toward a patch of flowers. "Oh!" Marsei exclaims again, more alarmed, but ever-smiling; she immediately dashes up from the bench and sweeps the kitten off its paws before it gets anywhere. Sitting back down, she holds it up toward Camillo, its fluffy belly facing him while the lady asks plainly, "Do you think it's a boy or a girl?"

Camillo blinks at the question and the little furry belly, but despite his best attempts to discern with a peer, he doesn't look sure. "Um, could you hold it so…I can look under its tail? Maybe I can tell."

"Ahh…" Marsei breathes unsurely, looking both uncertain of how to hold the cat and slightly embarrassed on its behalf; the creature, on the other hand, simply squirms about, its concerns only lying in being on the ground. "Dhraegon calls my dove a she," she comments blithely while turning the kitten about. Easier said than done, as it becomes convinced it can climb up her arm, but she has a gentle, instinctive way of keeping it from going awry. "But I don't know…"

Camillo tilts his head. "I don't know how to tell on a bird," he admits, "Unless it lays an egg." He reaches out to lift up the tail and stare at…hm. Mysterious juvenile cat organ bits. He cautiously reaches out to try to feel around a bit between the little kitten legs, but his face doesn't look very enlightened. "It could be female," he says at last, letting the creature be, "Or it could be too early to tell. We should look again in a month or two."

Marsei winces softly throughout the investigation, while the kitten, again, is unconcerned. When the result is lacking, she brings the kitten up to look it in the singular eye, a faint but comical disappointed little pout on her lips. "How am I going to name you now?" she laments. She pulls the grey garment up on her lap and nestles the kitten on it. "I suppose it does not matter," she says quietly, mostly to herself. She gazes into the water basin, reaching down to test its temperature as one might a bath for a person.

"Surely there are names that would suit for both, my lady," Camillo says. Then he looks down at the basin. The water in it is cold; Camillo has not heated water on a stove for a cat. "Now…How should we…" he muses, though he does rummage in his bag and come up with dried lavender, which he crushes in his hand to add to the bathwater.

"Well…" Marsei goes through a whole cycle of worry and acceptance in that single soft word, upon discovering the cold water. "It's new territory for all three of us," she says, lifting the kitten up and above the basin with a beamingly optimistic smile meant to encourage. "If I put it in the water and you hold it— did you bring soap?"

"Yes, my lady," Camillo answers, pulling out a sliver of lye soap. Then he looks doubtfully at the kitten. "You'll want to be careful, my lady, lowering it in."

The warning is acknowledged with a look of determination; nevertheless, the lady is less than prepared when the kitten turns into a tiny whirlwind of fur and claws the moment its tiny toes touch the water. Cat and lady both squeak, equal in pitch.

"Let go, my lady!" Camillo advises, stepping in now that tiny claw danger is in evidence. His mission is to try not to let the small thing drown itself /or/ escape while avoiding as much skin-ribboning as possible.

Marsei lets go, with minor scratches to show for her good intentions. Leaned over, she clutches the side of the basin, at the ready. The cloak protects the flowing skirt of her dress from inevitable splashing of water — and potential splashing of blood, given the little cat's fierce aversion to the whole concept of a bath. Its claws are more threatening than its protestations, little more than piteous mews and an ineffective hiss. Marsei goes for the soap, evidently not afraid to get her hands dirty in a kitten's time of need. "Oh, it hates it," she frets, "perhaps the water is too cold— "

Camillo winces as the kitten catches him a couple of good times on his hands and forearms. "I don't know as thatahwould help, my lady," he says through half-gritted teeth, reaching for the soap to get a good scrubbing in. He finally catches the kitten by the loose skin at the back of its neck, which restricts its whirlwinding a bit. "I expect the creature's never had a bath in its life."

"Only by its mother," Marsei points out while attempt to help rub the soap into the kitten's fur. "This is a human bath. I expect it thinks we're very strange with all this soap and water," she says, smiling empathetically down into its one, frightened eye as it tries, uselessly, to turn and bite Camillo. "Don't you?" she asks it in a sweet voice. The scruff-hold begins to calm the kitten into accepting its fate for small intervals.

The water rapidly becomes murky and dotted with parasites, gradually freezing the lady's smile on her face into a slight cringe, but she's set upon lending her aid.

"Yes," Camillo admits. "But it's got to have this one at the very least if you'd have it in your chambers, my lady," he says softly. "It'll be all right in the end." Now that the kitten's calmed a bit, he pokes his fingers into the fur at certain places to remove and crush lingering fleas. Which probably isn't very nice to see for a noblewoman. The 'click' when a flea pops isn't nice, either. "It'll feel better afterward. It must have been itching terribly."

Marsei's eyes cringe to a close and she turns her head away, but her gaze snaps back not a moment later. She will not abandon it! She focuses on trying to keep the kitten calm with gentle pets and strokes, dissuading with a firmer hand when it squirms in Camillo's grip. She sets her mind to a different topic, meanwhile, asking casually, regardless of the task in hand, "How have you been doing with the books from the library, Camillo?"

"Oh," Camillo says, while continuing with the process of pulling fleas. He's pretty deft at it; he must have seen more than a few fleas and ticks in his life. "I admit I've been very slow at reading them, my lady. They are more difficult than what I'm used to."

"They are difficult," Marsei agrees in earnest. She glances quickly away and back again through the process. "It is good to go slowly, to give each piece of information time to be understood," she says, looking up to flash the hard-working Camillo a smile. "At least, that is what I find."

There are surely a few more mewls of protest, perhaps occasioned by the indignity of it all or by Camillo accidentally pulling a hair or two when extracting nasty bugs. "I hope I can understand it in time, my lady," Camillo replies. Then he nods toward his bag. "Would you reach into my bag, my lady, and take out a rag that is near the top? I think it would be best to wrap the cat up when I'm finished so it doesn't run away and roll in the dirt."

Marsei gives Camillo a subtle nod, an approving look for his efforts in learning; the understanding expression of one student of the faith to another, rather than arriving from any feeling of being above him in such learning. A quick look, for she's immediately reaching into the bag when she's told and holding the rag at the ready. "You wouldn't roll around in the dirt, would you?" she speaks to the kitten sweetly, putting her faith in the creature's best qualities. "Oh, the poor thing, Camillo! Look how small it is under all that fur, it looks as though it's made of nothing but twigs!"

Camillo finally lifts the squirming kitten out of the water by the back of its neck, dripping and as skinny as Marsei says. "What will you feed it today, my lady, to help it grow larger?" he asks in a quietly warm tone.

"Leavings from the kitchen, I suppose," she answers wonderingly, as though it hadn't occurred to her until now. She uses the rag like a towel, ceasing some of the drips of water before wrapping it up to carefully bring it to her. As it gives an "'ow?" of distressed confusion, she bundles it all up in the cloak upon her lap. She leans her arms on either side of it, drying off its little one-eyed face; the lady is much happier than the kitten, but it begins to lower its eyes sleepily, warming up. "Perhaps some fish for supper," she seems to suggest to the cat rather than Camillo.

"I'm sure that with your care, my lady, it will soon be big and robust." He looks at the little creature. "When it dries, we should be careful to look through its fur again."

Marsei looks up from fussing over the kitten, tucking the blanket more snugly around it like a babe; her face brightens with the advent of a brilliant idea. "I can get it a comb!" she announces delightedly. It takes her a moment to realize that Camillo might not quite share her enthusiasm over the concept of brushing a cat with a special comb; her smile subdues, changing easily to gratitude. "Thank you, Camillo. I should not like to steal you from the rest of your duties to look through a cat's fur… you needn't, if it's a bother," she assures. "I will make sure it's seen to."

Camillo lifts his eyebrows a little at the idea of a comb and Marsei's great delight at it, and he makes a little nod. "My lady, if the cat is important to you, then I am happy to help you with it. I think it shows great mercy that you should take in a creature that would look wretched to others, and look after it so earnestly."

Marsei bows her head humbly rather than raising to the words, all the while smiling at the kitten, easily entertained by its every stir. "I have heard not dissimilar things said to me about Prince Dhraegon," she says quietly, her voice skirting a somber tone, yet she's instantly upbeat once again when she lifts the bundle up near her chin, saying, "Does it look so wretched? I know it only has one eye, but does that not make it more sympathetic? How cute it will be when it's all dry and brushed." She smiles more animatedly, her good-natured humour glinting in her eyes as she points the kitten's awkward face toward Camillo as if to say you'll see!

"The wretched /are/ sympathetic, my lady," Camillo opines. "The beautiful need little help."

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