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She’s calling me. I really don’t want to go to her, she’s just going force my mouth open and push stuff down my throat again. I decide not to move.  If she wants me, she can come to me.

“Crookshanks,” her voice calls. “Where are you? Dinner’s ready!”

I know it’s a lie.  If dinner were ready, I’d be able to smell it. The shadows on the wall tell me it’s time for her to torment me, not time for food.

There’s rattling in the cupboard and I can hear a plate being taken out. She’s going to try to lure me in with some fish, but I don’t think I’ll go today. There’s a loud tapping and I can smell the fish. She’s being extra loud, so I can hear that she’s putting down the plate of fish. I roll over on my side and put my paw over my eyes. It hurts. It hurts a lot. It’s like a hundred hot needles stabbing my joints.

“Crookshanks! I have fish for you!” Her voice is strident and I shift my paw slightly to cover my ear as well, and push the other ear further into the cushion I’m trying to sleep on.

Her footsteps come closer and the smell of the fish gets stronger. She comes into the room where I’m resting. She kneels beside me, puts the plate of fish near my head and I lift my head to sniff it, then put my head back down again. I can smell how worried she is.

Her hand touches me gently on my head by my ear and I purr reflexively, but nowadays it's hard to breathe if I purr too long, so I stop. She keeps rubbing me and I mark her with my cheek, then put my head back down.

“I wish I didn’t have to do this, Crookshanks,” she says to me, like she does every evening before pushing foul-tasting and worse-smelling liquid in my throat and making me swallow it. As I’ve gotten better at shaking my head and spitting it out, she’s gotten better at holding my mouth closed, rubbing my throat and making me swallow it. I don’t think it’s worth it any more.

When she first started doing this, it made me feel better, but now it doesn’t help as much. I feel like I did before; my legs hurt and it’s hard to move. I can’t jump well anymore. She makes sure that I have an easy climb onto the bed, even though he doesn’t like me on the bed. But even climbing the steps to the bed is too much anymore. Breathing is difficult and my breath comes all creaky if I try to move too fast. My stomach gets upset if I eat too much or too fast.

I feel the salty water from her eyes drip on me as she lowers her head to mine.

“I love you,” she says. She strokes my side, avoiding my hip and tail where she knows it makes me cry out. I purr gently again for a few seconds before I have to stop.

She lies down next to me and puts an arm around me. I push back slightly so my back is up against her. As I do, I can’t help it and cry out and I can feel her eyes drip more water on me more. Her scent changes from worried to sad. I try to purr to soothe her, but I can’t; it’s too hard to breathe.

She stays with me until I close my eyes, then she gets up carefully so she doesn’t disturb me. She thinks I’m asleep, but I can’t sleep right now. I hear her footsteps go back into the kitchen.

I sniff the plate of fish by my head, and I’m hungry, but it’s not worth the pain to stand and eat it.

I hear the sound of her sobbing, and want to go comfort her, but I just can’t make myself move.

“Ron, please come home, it’s Crookshanks, I think he’s going,” her voice comes from the kitchen.

There’s the loud noise that means he’s come home without tracking around the house. I could never figure out how he walks without tracking. His scent just disappears.

“What is it?” His voice says.

“He wouldn’t come out for fish, and when I took the plate in, he just sniffed it and put his head back down.” Her sobbing gets louder.

I hear the sounds him pushing up to her and comforting her. The small noises he makes to her are similar to the ones she makes to me.

I hear his heavier footsteps coming into the bedroom and open an eye to look at him as he comes in. I thump my tail, but that hurts too, and I stop. He kneels down by me and touches my cheek gently.  He smells of the place he goes off to each day.

He pretends not to like me, but when she’s not looking he gives me treats and pets me. He sometimes makes the silver dog that has no smell chase me and I chase it back. I stare at him sometimes just to make him nervous. I still like her better, but he and I have grown to respect each other and are, if not friends, then at least beings who live in the same house.

“Crookshanks, are you going to eat your fish?” He pushes the plate slightly closer. It does smell amazing, but I know I’ll never be able to eat it.

“Are you just tired, not hungry, or does it hurt too much?” I lift my head slightly and mew at him, then put it back down.

“I really do think it might be time,” she says from right behind him. I must have drifted off and didn’t hear her come in.

He stands and pulls her close, putting his lips on her head.

“I agree, love.” He takes his stick and touches me and says, “Analgesia.”

The pain recedes, but it’s still there as a dull ache. Each time he’s done this, it’s helped, but it lasts a shorter and shorter time each time. I stand stiffly and rub down their legs all the way from my head to my tail, starting with her, then finishing with him. She picks me up, being very careful to support my hips and head. I snuggle up to her and purr loudly, now that it doesn’t hurt as much to purr and it’s easier to breathe.

As she carries me, I see his silver dog appear and hear him say, “Luna, it’s time Crookshanks goes to his rest; can you come right away? Oh, and please bring Zephira, I think she’d like to see him one last time.”

“We’re going to have Luna come over,” she says, and I purr louder. I love Luna. She’s gentle and careful, and you can smell happy cat and Kneazle on her and other animals that I can’t identify. Whenever we went to visit Luna her Kneazle, Zephira, always played with me, and if I don’t feel up to playing, we’d just snuggle up and sleep in a big warm heap.

He puts my cushion down on the table and she sets me down in it. The pain is still being held back by whatever he did and I sit up. He puts the plate of fish in front of me. It’s delicious and I eat as much of it as I can, which is only a couple of bites.

“He didn’t eat much of that, did he?” He asks.

She shakes her head.

“It’s okay,” he says to me and scratches an ear as we wait for Luna and Zephira. Her eyes are watering again, and when I look at him, his seem moist, too. They both smell sad.

Luna arrives with a bang, making me jump slightly.  I cry out, because even with the pain dulled it hurt to flinch like that. Zephira’s in her arms looking at me with her yellow eyes. She’s small for a Kneazle, but still almost as big as me. Her tabby stripes have always interested me.

Luna puts Zephira on the table next to me. She sniffs me over and licks my head. She smells worried. I mew at her reassuringly. It’s all good if he and she and Luna and Zephira are here.

Luna touches me with her stick, just barely putting it on me and she says a bunch of stuff. Then she rubs my cheeks in the way she knows I love and scratches the base of my tail. I shift uncomfortably from that and she notices. She’s like a Kneazle; she notices everything.

Zephira lays down next to me and puts her back up against mine, a warm wall of fur to lean on in the cushion.

“Has he seemed to be in more pain? He really pulled away when I touched his back.” Luna’s voice is always sweet and gentle.

He spoke first. “He didn’t get up when Hermione put fish down for him, and when we petted him, he was very flinchy, and pulled away from us.”

“And he’s not even wanted to climb the kitty-steps to the bed the last week, and has only stayed on his cushion. We’ve had to clean him up a couple of times when he couldn’t get up for the litter box.” Her voice breaks and she starts bawling like a kitten.

“I—I can’t stand to see him in so much pain anymore.” She says in between sobs.

“I understand,” Luna says. “Do you want me to put him to sleep now?”

She looks at him, and he looks at her, then she nods.

“I think it’s his time.”

He’s definitely watering in the eyes now.

Zephira purrs louder.

Luna’s stick touches me.

“Dormum saecula.” She repeats it softly. “Dormum saecula.”

I start to drift off into a warm sleep and the last thing I remember is Zephira’s purr, Ron’s eyes, Luna’s gentle hand on my head, and Hermione’s head pressed against my belly.

Sleep without pain will be good.

A/N Dormum Saecula would be a loose translation of Sleep Forever. It was an intentional stylistic choice to not have Crookshanks use Ron’s and Hermione’s names until the end of the story.



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