On the other side of the door, Baron stood. Finding the courage to do something, he knocked on the door. Not receiving any answer, Baron opened it to see there was no one but the sleeping Haru in the room. He slowly walked to Haru as if every step defines his fate. As soon as he was in front of the sleeping Haru, he stood there to look her over. Her features that changed into a half-cat but never turning into one is something that she has strongly attained through her beliefs. She handled her trials honestly and bravely still gracing everybody a smile. Even she ended up beat-up from all of it and exhausted at the end, she stood her ground with his comrades in the end. "I still can't protect you..If only I could protect you..." He paused and spoke again.
" I'll be by your side, be it day or night.." he kneeled in one leg and took Haru's hand in his. "my door will always be open...until then, trust in me" he said in a chant and placed a kiss on her hand. Haru smiled in her sleep. That person noticed a spark from the corner of his eye. He replaced her hand on the bed. He looked around half of the room and sighed. After that, he immediately took off.
After he turned his back from the door he is closing, a figure emerged from the shadows. The figure looked on the closing door.
"If you have realized that sooner, Baron. I wouldn't have done such a foolish thing" the figure looked at Haru "I'm sorry, Haru" John said as he looked at the glowing green rose etched in his lower arm. The same one that now glowed in Haru's arm.
Tomorrow came and it's the day before Haru and John's departure to the secret location. The day was normal and perfect as always yet everything feels a bit heavier than usual. Muta who walked in the corridor towards the dining area, felt annoyed by it, the feeling that everything will end up bad very soon. 'Tsk. I hate it'
"Good Morning Muta!" Haru greeted.
"AH!" Muta shouted as he positioned to his side defensively. "Jeez. Kid. Don't scare me like that. You're going to give me a heart attack" he said regaining his breath.
"I'm surprised you haven't already with all that fat stored in you, Muta" Toto said as he flew down on the window beside them.
"Good Morning Toto!" Haru smiled cheerfully.
"Good Morning, Haru. You seem more cheerful today" Toto answered back.
"Yeah. I just felt happier than yesterday somehow. It's kind of weird actually and I...I think I just want this day to be happy. I'm going tomorrow so there's no need to make it sadder than it already is" She said to them smiling happily.
"Haru..." Toto said.
Muta and Toto looked at each other and looked back at Haru. They admired how strong she is and how she's always been this positive girl around them. They're going to miss her until everything of this mess is over.
"Alright, Chicky! We get ya'. Let's make this day a blast!" Muta said as he ruffled Haru's hair.
They all smiled, excited to spend this day worry-free.
"Good Morning, all of you. Glad I could see you this day so cheerful" a black cat looked at them, smiling.
"Good day, John." Toto spoke turning to him, the same time as Muta and Haru.
"Hey" Muta said, still not much trusting John.
Muta and Toto thought they would hear a friendly greeting from Haru but nothing came, curious as to why they looked at Haru who is apparently quiet and looking red despite her fur.
"Kid, you okay?" Muta asked.
"Huh? uh..oh..yes..Yes. I'm okay. Good Morning...uhm..John" She said to him, smiling awkwardly.
"Good morning to you too, Haru. Muta, Toto, we're being called by Lune and Yuki. They said they'll have a few words for us before me and Haru leave."
"We'll go. Haru let's meet later, alright" Toto said.
"Catch you later, kid" Muta said before leaving with John and Toto towards the throne room.
"So, I'll start this day alone then, Huh?" She sighed. "There's no point sulking about it, Let's make this day worth it then." She said dedicated.
Haru walked the corridors strangely looking in each of the castle's pillars like she's never seen it for a thousand times in her stay in the palace. Everything was normal and yet all of it seems to dazzle in Haru's eyes like it's the first time she'd seen it. The walls, the balconies and its enormous garden are more beautiful today than any other day.
"You're alone, Haru. It's a great day. Maybe a cup of tea would be a good thing to start it. Now, where is that kitchen" She said searching while walking through the long corridors until she noticed Natoru came by walking nonchalantly.
"Good Morning, Ms. Haru!"
"Natoru, perfect timing! Do you know where the kitchen is?" Haru asked.
"Why do you want to know Ms. Haru? Do you need something?" Natoru asked.
"Just want to make a cup of tea"
"Well, the servants can bring you a cup of tea, Ms. Haru. All you need is ask. Oh, Emily!-"
"Wait. It's fine hehe. No need to call the maids for it. I could do it myself"
"But Ms. Haru, you're a guest and you've saved this kingdom. No one can refuse if you ask it"
"I know, Natoru but it won't be the same if someone does it for me. How about this...You can drink the tea I made after. How's that sound?"
"A tea from Ms. Haru would be very much liked but-"
"Where's the kitchen?" She smiled as she looked around the doors she could see from where she's standing.
"It's just on the right of us...but-"
"Thanks. I'll go there then" She continued to walk now on the right corridor.
"But Ms. Haru, there is something you should know"
"Is this the kitchen?" She said staring at a big door with a chef's hat carved on it's door with an image of a cat's paw.
"Miss Haru. Wait. You can't go inside there-"
"Why not? There shouldn't be a problem at least on just making a cup of tea"
Natoru panicked at Haru's headstrong answers to his almost said warnings. Haru opened the door and saw the bustling kitchen of the palace for the first time.
"Wow. It's big. You really do make a lot of fish and mice dishes huh?" She said as she went one by one to the busy cats working on the morning breakfast on their stations. "It smells nice in here"
"Ms. Haru...let's go before he sees us"
"Who will see us? I just want to make tea"
"But-" Natoru was cut off when a big cat came into his behind them, making a big shadow over them. The color from Natoru just drained from his fur as he looked horrified to look at the cat that is casting a big shadow over them. "Him"
Haru turned to see a big gray cat behind her with shaggy fur and few black stripes on his body. At that moment, he thought he was a cat bigger than Muta but she realized it was just his fur that makes hime looked more terrifiying to look at.
"Hi, My name's Haru"
"Yeah, so? Pretty Hero is here. What are you doing in my kitchen? Huh?"
"Uhm. I just want to make a cup of tea for myself"
"Huh?" The gray cat quirked an eyebrow and suddenly cracked up a laugh. "Hahahaha. You? Make tea?...in my kitchen? Hahahaha" His laugh booming into the room.
"What's so funny?" She asked confused.
"You're kidding, right? You know girlie. You can fight those bandits, save the king and queen and dance with your puff princess dresses lent to you for a ball, That's your thing. But in the kitchen, I'm in charge so I ain't letting you make a cup of leaves inside my sanctuary. You hear?"
"Why not? I could make a decent tea if what you're saying I can't do one"
"Honey, This is the kitchen of the castle. This is no place for simple food and boiled leaves to be cooked plus with hands as rough in fighting as yours, I bet you can't even be careful with the ingredients you put"
"I'm just making tea-"
"And I said N-O. Now scram, scrawny chick"
The gray cat's voice echoed throughout the kitchen. Haru was surprised to be denied strongly for making tea. This day she thought wouldn't be a good one if she just let this good start of a day of hers be ruined.
"What if I can prove it to you?"
"Prove it? As if you can do that"
"Underestimating me huh? Want a bet?"
"We'll have a cooking contest to prove one's skills in cooking. Is that alright with you?"
"I can't back down from a challenge made in my kitchen. I'll allow it"
"Alright then, Whoever wins can do whatever they want in this kitchen and treat the other as they see fit" Haru exclaimed.
"That's all? Just do your best or not huh? Fine. If you want it that way, I'm all for it. Natoru, you'll be the referee"
"ME? I'll do it!" He said gulping after. "The ingredients used are the things you can only see in this kitchen. If everyone is ready to fill their own bellies and taste test the challengers cooking, then without further ado, I say we START!"
The cooking battle begun as the crowd of made and chefs cheer for each side and anticipate the dishes made by each other.
Meanwhile, in the palace gardens...
"Baron! Where are you? Baron? I wonder where he went?" Louise called in worry.
Baron looked from behind the trees, making it his camouflage. "I'm sorry, Louise. There is just something I must do. I'll have my leave for now." Baron said as he went deeper into the forest, disappearing from the bushes and trees that surround the palace.
A/N: In their quests to heal, be happy despite of struggles and an ongoing hope for the better future, What will the end of their days would be?. Hi. Not my best update, I know. Hope you still read it. And I call out my friend, Ricardo Michael (yeah, the animator and rational sleeper. hehe) there who has been an inspiration too in continuing this story. Sorry, Hope you're not mad at me though. Hope you read still this even you are far away, reminding you the whole, wholesome movie of Cat Returns and could still talk to you if you consider it. Well even just a bit hehe. Okay, breather chapter now here, more revelations next chapter. Smiles.