Do You Trust Me?
A/N: This is my introductory oneshot to the character of Persephone, an OC crafted by the ever-wonderful Sindy Sugar and TCRMommaBear to fill the role of the absent Cat Queen. She has become kind of adopted into the TCR Tumblr fandom, gaining several headcanons in the process, and the most persistent one is that Louise swept Persephone off her feet (because Louise was created by the same person as Baron, so of course they share certain dramatic tendencies) and eventually ended up running away with her to have adventures.
This oneshot is set before they run away, so Persephone is still the Cat Queen, and Louise is the Creation who spends a disproportional amount of time with her.
(And, yes, this is a ship. Watch me sail it.)
There were many things that a queen didn't do.
Run. Skip. Slurp. Burp. Slouch. Cry. Speak out of turn. Speak before being spoken to. Speak to the wrong sort of cat. Shout.
Basically anything that could possibly make her more interesting than a mouldy piece of bread.
Persephone had long ago crafted a careful persona that appeased the sensibilities of her tutors, and later the nobility, and finally that of her husband. Quiet, but dignified. Respected, but bland. A presence in the room, but in the same way the throne was.
And queens certainly didn't run off with well-dressed adventurers.
Even if they were frustratingly smooth and unreasonably dapper.
But there Louise was. Standing on Persephone's balcony, her fur rippling dramatically in the cool night breeze; a white shadow tinged blue by the portal at her heels.
"Louise, do you have any idea what will happen if you're discovered sneaking into the palace?"
Louise jumped gracefully off the balcony wall. "A lot of running and chaos I imagine." She smoothed down her petticoated skirt, as if her dress was anything less than in perfect place.
"Can you take this seriously? What if they catch you?"
The two cats paused, and then laughed. Persephone covered her mouth to hide the worst of the undignified snort.
"Correction: What if they see you?" she amended. "If you're discovered sneaking into my room, I'll never be allowed to sneeze again without some guard checking on me."
"Well, in that case, we'd better not tarry," Louise replied. She threw a coat - a heavy, long dark coat with silver buttons lined all the way to the hem - which Persephone hastily caught. "There's a place I'd like you to see."
Persephone eyed the coat weighing down her arms. "This looks like you've stolen it from some pirate," she said eventually.
"Hey, I won it, fair and square. Well, mostly fair."
"You don't reach my age without learning a few good card tricks. Don't worry - I had it cleaned."
Persephone pulled the coat on, and dubiously rubbed at a rusty-coloured patch on the sleeve that might have been blood. "I can't imagine what it must have looked like before," she muttered. "So where are we going?"
"It's a surprise."
"Every time you say that, I feel one of my nine lives shrivel up and die."
"And they say the Cat Queen doesn't have a sense of humour." Louise leapt back onto the balcony rail with more grace than any half-cat should reasonably possess, her skirts billowing about her feet in the cool night air. She offered a hand down to the Cat Queen. "Do you trust me?"
Persephone looked to the hand dropped before her, with its strange human shape and silk gloves, and then to its owner's face. To those starlight blue eyes and that mischievous smile.
A smile of her own tugged its way onto her lips. Her paw found its way to Louise's strange half-half hand. "Against all my better judgement."
"That's the spirit." Louise pulled her up onto the balcony rail, one arm snaking around Persephone's waist to balance her - and, as a side effect that Louise had probably intended, brought them closer together with their whiskers nearly touching.
"You know, I believe this is highly improper behaviour around a queen," Persephone lightly admonished, silently grateful for her dark fur hiding the blush. "Cats have been beheaded for less."
"Only when they're caught." And with a wink, Louise fell back and through the portal with nothing more for a warning. The Cat Kingdom dissolved away and the next thing Persephone knew, they were collapsed in a snow flurry.
Louise was the first to her feet, springing back up as if they hadn't just crossed worlds.
"Ah, smell that, Sephie! The smell of a new world! Is there anything better in all the universe?"
"Try a really good catnip tea," the Queen murmured. But as she rose to her paws, so did a smile, bubbling through into a laugh as she surveyed the brand new world stretched before her. She pushed through the waist-high snow to see the winter wonderland in all its glory.
"Glad for that coat now, I expect?" Louise chuckled. She had somehow got a footing atop the snow, standing on the icy upper layer with elfin ease. She pulled Persephone up so she could truly see the way the world dropped away to reveal an empty, white canyon stretching out to what seemed like forever.
"Where is this place?" Persephone breathed.
"You know… I'm not entirely sure. It's empty though. Completely uninhabited." Louise glanced to the beautiful cat by her side, eyes sparkling with more life than she'd ever seen in the Queen in all her time in the Cat Kingdom. A quietly content smile stole over Louise's face. "If you've ever wanted to shout, now's the time."
Persephone's head snapped in Louise's direction. "What?"
"Shout," Louise repeated. "Raise your voice? Or has all your time in the royal palace erased what that means? From what I've seen, queens aren't expected to have a voice."
"It's not what a queen does," Persephone agreed.
"Well, you're not a queen here. Here, you're just another visitor to a strange new world. No cat subjects here to hear you." Louise smirked. "And I promise I won't tell."
"Are you sure this place is empty?"
"I haven't looked under every rock, but yes. You can speak your mind here and only the snow flurries will hear." When Persephone still hesitated, Louise stepped forward to the edge, a snowy cat in a snowy world. "Here, I'll go first."
Louise inhaled, her dress flaring dramatically with a fresh gust of wind, and she yelled out into the canyon. After several moments, the echo bounced back and reverberated about them. She grinned proudly. "Your turn."
Persephone joined Louise's side and mimicked the deep breath her companion had taken earlier, but when it came to shouting, her throat closed about itself and a weak 'ha' trickled from her lips. Her heart was hammering just at the thought of raising her voice, and she stumbled a half-step back. "Sorry-"
"It's fine. Let's shout together this time. On the count of three? One… Two… Three."
Louise bellowed into the winter wonderland, and after a few dubious seconds, Persephone joined in. With another cat at her side, her squeak grew louder as she found confidence in Louise's volume, until Louise's voice died away and Persephone was roaring.
The moment she heard her own voice, the sound collapsed and both paws flew to her mouth. The echo continued to bounce back at her though, refusing to let her forget.
"Was that… me?" A laugh ran through her, keeping her warm against the world's icy weather. "I haven't shouted like that since… since I was a kitten…"
"Do you want to shout some more?"
"By my whiskers, yes."
"For what it's worth, you won't be able to shout louder than me. I have had much practice."
"Is that usually while you're running away from monsters?" Persephone asked.
"And I believe I was the louder of us two just then."
"Poppycock. I demand a rematch."
"That's fine by me. Prepare to lose."
The two cats stood shoulder to shoulder at the edge, roaring into the silent world until their voices gave way and they dissolved into breathless giggles.
"I won," Louise gasped. "Admit it, I won."
"Are those Creation ears of yours failing you? I am the clear winner here."
"Are you calling the Cat Queen a liar?"
Louise leant towards Persephone, still faintly recovering. "I'm sorry, Your Majesty, but you're just an ordinary cat here, remember? Here, you're just Sephie to me."
"I'm always Sephie to you. Anyway, that doesn't change that - whoa." Persephone grabbed Louise's arm as the ground shook beneath them. Something rumbled. "Is that just me," she whispered, "or did that sound distinctly monster-like?"
"No, that definitely sounded monster-like."
"I thought you said this place was uninhabited," Persephone hissed. "I thought you said you looked under every rock!"
"I said I hadn't looked under every rock! Anyway, I didn't take into account that perhaps the rocks themselves might be a monster!" The ground shifted and rolled, and something was definitely forming from the mountainside. Snow fell aside and revealed a stony brow and blinking granite eyes rising from the peak.
"And we've just woken it up," Persephone groaned. "Out of all the worlds…"
"Less complaining, more running!" Grabbing Persephone's hand, Louise hauled them back in the direction of the portal, slightly hysterical laughter caught in her throat.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"Oh, you'll learn to love it!"
"If I live long enough!"
With a final leap, they jumped through the portal and landed with a thud on the floor of Persephone's room. Safe. Quiet. And with at least two guards stationed outside.
Persephone rolled onto her side and buried her head into Louise's shoulder, trying desperately to curb her own laughter now between heady gasps. "You," she whispered, "are crazy. That was crazy." She shook her head and still didn't move away from the Creation. "We have to do that again."