BHM Kätzchen [BHM, MAGIC, EXPLICIT CONTENT]

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byutane

Grabby Hands Sr.
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2017
Messages
76
Location
UK
Kätzchen
by byutane​

Chapter 1

Fate conspired that, on that particular morning, it should be exceptionally rainy in Celle. Lower Saxony overall had been having an unusually drizzly summer, but even so, the weather that day was excessive. Tourists ran for cover, the Aller river swelled, and museum assistant Christine Becker made a great show of sulking in her hotel room.

"I just can't believe it's the last day, and it's so horrible outside." She rolled onto her back and kicked her legs in the air irritably, keeping her phone pressed resolutely to her ear. "The Schlosstheater, and Hoppener Haus, the synagogue and the castle…"

"Look at it as a good thing that you didn't book more free days," came the voice of Elias, a fellow apprentice archaeologist. While his tone was always gentle, Christine couldn't help but read a certain amount of stereotypical German frankness into his words. "Your dedication is very popular with Professor Black." She did like his accent, though.

"I had to put in that much effort, dude. After my first day." She'd come perilously close to breaking a potentially important sample of bone.

"You read too much into things," said Elias, the now familiar image of him waving his hand passionately appearing in Christine's mind. He was an expressive kind of guy. "At least you caught yourself."

"Doesn't help me much right now, though." Christine looked gloomily at the drizzle-grey sky.

"We can still go to museums and the like. Make the most of it, okay, Schatzi?"

"Alright. I'll see you in a bit, tchotchke." The terms of endearment were because the two were - technically - an item. Christine had wasted no time in going after him after they first met, but it'd been agreed soon after that their relationship should only last for as long as Christine was in Germany. They weren’t particularly keen on trying the whole long distance thing, plus, while they did click, neither was really more than a summer romance prospect for the other.

Christine mulled this over while she showered and got ready - it seemed right to dress up a little bit for their outing, which was to be the longest time they'd get to spend together outside of the dig, in a soft pink skater dress with matching lip gloss and a long white coat for the rain. There was even a quick application of blush to brighten up her pale complexion. She took a minute to wrap Elias’s goodbye present in tissue paper, to make sure it didn’t get damaged in her purse, but despite the distraction her thoughts whirred like a beehive. Elias was cute. Fun. Part of her felt like, maybe she should feel worse about leaving him behind than she did. It was possible that she was bottling things up, that they hadn’t sunk in yet - but when she saw him waiting for her outside the hotel with umbrella in hand... all she felt was anticipation, totally untempered by sadness. She reflected that it was better that way.

Elias was of average height and had spiky blonde hair, with angular facial features despite his not insignificantly plump waist. He wasn't the heaviest person Christine had ever dated, but he was round and cuddly enough to keep her amused for the duration of her stay. A soft white t-shirt clung just enough to his chubby tummy and hips, visible thanks to his unzipped hoodie, with thick thighs showing through his blue jeans. He smiled, big and bright, when he caught sight of Christine.

"Chrissie!" Holding a clear umbrella over their heads, he pulled her into a warm hug. "This is cute, I like this." He touched her long black hair, which she'd pulled into a high ponytail and secured with a scrunchie.

"Me too. Little bit 80s, you know?" The two of them held hands as they walked, weaving to avoid puddles, occasionally stopping for Elias to explain something about a street or landmark.

"-and that's where I broke my nose on my bike when I was ten."

"Are you enjoying playing tour guide?"

"Absolutely!" He shot another winning smile at her. "I want to make your one tourism day worth it."

"Much appreciated." She squeezed his hand, feeling the roughness of his fingertips. "So. Which museum are you taking me to first?"

"Bomann. It's a good overview of the town, lots of different historical periods. It has lots of dioramas. And I can be your translator," he winked. "But first…" they took a turning and emerged into the town square, which was lined with beautiful half timber houses and bustling with people despite the rain.

"It's so colourful," said Christine, dazzled.

"There's an excellent cafe here we can go to for lunch. If you like."

"Sure. I trust your recommendations on where to eat," Christine replied, playfully elbowing his flabby side.

"I know all the best places, as my badge of honour can attest," Elias lightly patted his stomach, a shy but ultimately pleased expression on his face. "You really are terrible for me, Schatzi. You know I've put on more than a stone since you arrived."

"You love it really," Christine teased, cuddling up to him to avoid getting dripped on by other umbrellas.

"It has certainly been fun. Now, to Bomann." True to his word, Elias translated every exhibit for Christine, juggling between explanation and any extra relevant information he might know about the town's history. Afterwards they walked past a few more sights in the rain, Christine taking a turn to talk by telling stories about her family back home - every one of them in the entertainment industry in some capacity. Her scriptwriter father and session musician sister tended to yield the best results, since the colourful characters they came in contact with were always good for a laugh.

Around noon, they settled in at the café Elias had pointed out. The vibe was rustic, to blend well with the outside, but modern enough to feel trendy.

"Okay, what do you recommend?"

"The Baumkuchen here is excellent. I don't think you ever got a chance to have any of Susan's?"

"It was all gone by the time I found out she'd even brought it at all. It's fair enough though, I understand it's amazing." A small grin tugged at the corners of Elias's mouth.

"The one here is better. Also, Heidesand with our coffee, and the miniature Frankfurter Kranz - the cheesecake is good too..."

"You have such a sweet tooth," Christine chuckled, "I'll get a black bread sandwich so I don't overload on sugar, and you can order every cake and pastry you think I should try and we'll split them. I don't mind paying for half."

"Are you sure?" Elias arched a brow. "Even though your greedy date will almost certainly eat most of it?"

"When have I ever minded you being greedy?" Christine winked. "Go on, it's our last day."

"I suppose that's true," a cheeky look came over his face as he scanned the menu again. "Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, Bienenstich, apple pie…" he muttered, eventually getting up to order from the counter. Christine felt appropriately pleased with herself - she'd been increasingly successful in her efforts to get Elias to eat well around her, helped along by his already big appetite and the positive reinforcement from herself which inevitably followed. He'd once joked to her that he had not one but several dessert stomachs, such was his tolerance for sweet things, and Christine had insisted on their dropping by the 24 hour supermarket after their long day at the dig was over and keeping themselves up half the night with several bags of doughnuts and a Led Zeppelin CD. Summer antics. That had been a good evening… "I got you your sandwich too, and I ordered us coffee to go with our sweets."

"Can't wait," Christine clapped her hands gently, craning her neck to look at the cabinet full of samples. "Everything looks amazing!"

"If it were up to me we would have everything to ourselves, but we need to save room for dinner, right?"

"Don't tell me you have dinner plans too?"

"If you like." The two went back and forth for a little while about who would pay the bill, then moved on to some light gossip about the other people in their program, guilt free since they were unlikely to see any of them again any time soon.

"Brittany and Georgia, mark my words."

"You're right, but well, they don't have to rush things. They go to the same university, don't they?"

"But this town is an excellent place for romance, they should take advantage of it. That's all I think."

"Not everyone is as obvious as you and me. Let them have their slow burn."

"You have a point. We have to make the most of it, that's the difference." A warm wave of, maybe slightly premature nostalgia came over Christine. She thought about the rambling historical conversations she and Elias had shared while cleaning and sorting samples, the exciting knowledge that she was contributing to a real archaeological dig, even that moment right there in the café. The program had been perfect, and it didn't need to be anything more.

Well, maybe it was improved upon by the arrival of their food.

After a couple of trips by the girl at the counter, their table was covered in plates with slices of colourful cake, many of which were accompanied with fruit or cream, their large cups of coffee marking the far edges like bookends and Christine's sandwich perilously close to falling off.
 
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byutane

Grabby Hands Sr.
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2017
Messages
76
Location
UK
"Oh, so you're hungry hungry, huh?"

"Once you taste, you'll understand," Elias grinned, picking up his fork. Christine sampled something pale and fluffy and covered in strawberries - the flavour was delicate, sweet and tart, the berries bursting in her mouth like fireworks.

"Oh my god."

"See!" Elias beamed, absolutely pleased with himself. "Now let me have some." He was a relaxed eater, preferring to savour the experience, but he took big bites and tended to make very short work of whatever was put in front of him. The two ate in relative quiet, too wrapped up in the complimentary flavours of the desserts and the coffee. Christine ate her sandwich last, enjoying the sight of Elias accidentally smearing cream on his upper lip. It stayed there for a good few mouthfuls and lingered even as he finished, sighed contentedly and reclined back in his chair.

"Hey, you've got something…" Christine indicated her own lip.

"Where?" Elias raised his eyebrows, feigning ignorance. "Could you get it for me?"

"You are such a flirt," said Christine, in a slightly lower voice. "Come here." They leaned over the table and Christine kissed Elias's lips, doing her best to be at least a little bit discreet.

Afterwards, they visited the castle, taking advantage of a small lull in rainfall to see a bit of the gardens, swung by the Otto Haesler house for some architectural history (and more translation work by Elias), finally ending up in the art museum. While the German boy was a little more skeptical of modern art overall, they spent a significant period of time in a dimly lit room where lightboxes made constellation patterns on the walls, spinning slowly. Standing there with Elias's hand in hers, watching artificial stars dance to ethereal mood music, it was almost enough to make Christine feel wistful.

"Wunderschön," Elias muttered, running his thumb over hers.

By seven, Elias's stomach was growling persistently, so they made their way to his second pick of the day - a more old fashioned place with a bar and a garden, which was unfortunately empty thanks to the weather.

"I hoped we could sit outside, but at least we're closer to the bar this way." Elias pulled out Christine's chair for her, hamming up his chivalry for a laugh. "I know you don't drink very much, but I must insist you try something from the local microbrewery. You've missed out on beer while you've been here."

"Okay, I'll trust your judgement again. But I don't want to get drunk, I get embarrassing."

"You wouldn't embarrass me," said Elias, ruffling her hair on his way to the bar, "but fair enough." While he was gone, Christine scanned the menu, settling on a turkey Bratwurst and side salad. When Elias returned she asked if he wanted to get a Schnitzel sharing platter, the sparkle in his eye answering her question immediately. "Maybe we should get two," he said, mischievous.

"As well as your main?" He tried and failed to conceal a grin.

"You'll see." Soon a waiter came to take their order, someone Elias seemed to actually know - he introduced Christine, who waved politely and offered a heavily accented "sehr nett Dich kennzulernen", and then began conversing in rapid German. Usually Elias translated everything for Christine, but it seemed like things were moving too fast for that to be practical. Despite her relative lack of prior knowledge, spending a month in Germany did mean she'd picked up on a few things, and she was able to recognise a few words; Freundin (girlfriend), met with an appropriate hand wave, größer (bigger), at which Elias laughed and said something about Christine, süß (cute), provoking a mutual friendly punch to the arm. Nikolas took Christine's order in soft spoken English, then after a final stream of words between himself and Elias, most of which sounded like food, the two were alone again.

"Good news, we are getting a discount."

"Do you actually come here so often that everyone knows you?" Asked Christine with a smile. That was a rather appealing thought.

"Oh, no, I went to school with Nikolas." A pause. "That was Nikolas."

"He seems like a nice guy."

"Don't say that, he'll hear you," Elias laughed, "when I told him we aren't, you know, he asked me if you're free next week. Be careful!" Christine giggled, shaking her head. "I think he's too skinny for you anyway." Nikolas had been tall and lanky with scruffy, light brown hair.

"You're not wrong…" Christine sipped at the beer Elias had chosen. It was crisp and slightly bitter, refreshing. "This is good."

"What did I tell you," he hummed, visibly increasingly pleased with himself. "The percentage isn't too high, so don't worry."

"I'll save some for the food, I'll be fine," said Christine, who was rapidly not doing that. Her next drink was a coke instead. They chatted for a while, during which Elias gleefully danced around the topic of what he'd ordered. Eventually Nikolas returned, bearing significantly more plates than Christine had expected. He placed her Bratwurst and salad down in front of her with a smile and a for you, then rapid-fired more boisterous conversation at Elias while he presented his food. Christine tried not to show how surprised she was - Spätzle, cheese Frankfurter, a beef burger with fries and pretzels and two sharing platters as promised.

"So… hungry, hungry."

"A feast in your honour, Schatzi." If Elias had been happy with himself before, it was nothing compared to that moment. "You're welcome to try things. But again, most of it is for me," he winked.

"Must you tease me so," Christine breathed, her eyes barely leaving him even as she took her first bite of Bratwurst. Elias's stomach gurgled one last time before he began eating at an uncharacteristically rapid pace. This was certainly the most she'd ever seen him attempt to consume in one sitting, so she supposed he was trying to cram as much as possible into his stomach before it could object. Determination practically crackled around his body as he finished his burger and moved onto the Spätzle, calming slightly as he sighed in contentment at the flavour.

"Oh, that's good. I could eat a swimming pool of this sauce."

"Save some for me, okay?" Christine reached over and took a forkful for herself. It was warm, and rich, and cheesy, and one bite was enough to make her start feeling sleepy. "That is good," she purred.

"Have some more if you like," said Elias, starting on a sharing - well, "sharing" - platter. "I have my hands full here."

"And whose fault is that?" Christine asked, pausing to chew her bratwurst. "You're greedier than I thought, tchotchke."

"I can't help wanting to impress you a little bit."

"Oh? Is it working?"

"I can tell by the look on your face just how well it is," he smirked. Indeed, Christine was sure she looked enraptured. Elias's stomach was visibly starting to bulge and press against the fabric of his t-shirt. The serene, almost beatific look on his face as he lost himself in the pleasure of getting stuffed with rich food giving him the air of an innocent kind of hedonism. It was enough to practically hypnotise a girl.

By the time he'd eaten his three dishes, Elias had slowed down considerably. Christine had enjoyed her Bratwurst at a leisurely pace and was having fun picking at the pretzels and platters, watching Elias massage his stomach to try and coax it into creating more room. Delightfully, a wedge of soft flesh rolling over his waistband could be occasionally seen when the fabric of his shirt caught in his fingers, getting covered up again when he took another bite.

"Oof." Elias stifled a soft burp with his napkin. "I feel like I'm going to burst…"

"Maybe you should take a break," Christine mumbled, unable to take her eyes off his bowed-out stomach. "You don't have to finish everything."

"And disappoint you?" Elias panted, smiling lazily. "I can do it." He pushed himself again, mixing the available flavours from the remaining platter with salty pretzels and taking frequent sips of his beer. It took him some time, but eventually everything was gone. He lazed luxuriously in his chair, blush spreading over his face, hands discreetly cradling his stomach.

"Elias…" Christine swallowed, knowing she was just as red if not moreso.

"Ausgezeichnet," he muttered, sighing. "I will be okay in a few minutes… enjoy the view until then, alright, Schatzi?" He sighed again. "I feel like a dumpling."

"A dumpling?" Christine couldn't help but laugh a little, "because you're stuffed full and round?"

"Exactly," he groaned, starting to rub small circles on his stomach. "It was worth it, but..." He was actually panting slightly from the exertion. "I will need to recover quickly for the Schlosstheater."

"Oh, I'd almost forgotten!" Christine hurriedly checked her phone. "We have an hour 'til it starts, so we should be fine."

"It's Morgen Existieren we're seeing, right?" Elias gingerly sipped some water. "They're a fun group."

"The name sounds a bit pretentious but, it's jazz, what're you gonna do."

"We certainly don't want to miss it. After we get the bill shall we go for a walk first? Maybe it will help me to digest," he grinned, sheepish. "Hang on, I'll get Nikolas's attention." It didn't take long. When they went to leave, Christine found a scrap of paper with a phone number underneath her purse. She quietly disposed of it.

"Be careful, you shouldn't bring future dates to hang around a guy who's willing to try and pick them up," she told Elias on their way to the gig.

"Ah, he doesn't try it with everybody." He burped quietly into his hand. "I think maybe he misunderstood. I got told off for eating too much and ignoring you on a date, you know." Christine shook her head at the concept.

"Silly." Elias went a shade pinker.

"I didn't want to explain to him, that you prefer the kind of man who eats a lot. It seemed too private."

"I don't mind," Christine shrugged, "but I appreciate the thought." Their pace was still slow enough, to accommodate Elias's full stomach, that Christine could wrap herself around him while they walked. "When I'm gone you can gossip about me all you like."

"More like brag," he replied. "I think it might be every man's dream to be fed as much as they want by a beautiful woman."

"Oh, is that so? Let me know when you find one," she joked.

“Don’t pretend you aren’t, Schatzi.” They traded banter until they reached the theatre, where they bought drinks and waited for the show to start. The seats were arranged close to the stage for a quiet evening, casual, and there was enough time for Elias to recover a little more before the house lights went down. Christine had another little moment then, like in the room full of stars; her body still thrummed with heat from watching him overeat, and seeing the dark outline of his curved body in the gloaming, all poised in anticipation, made her feel… something. She leaned into his big, warm presence. The audience clapped automatically as the band arrived onstage, while Christine stared at Elias and let the first low notes of a clarinet wash over her.

“Thank you,” she whispered in his ear. “I’m so glad I’m here with you.”

The show was more lively than Christine had been expecting. The intimate feel was helped by the number of people who’d shown, maybe chased inside by the rain; at one point a trombonist made a cheerful request of the audience, and most found room to dance in the aisles or between the rows to an upbeat, syncopated piece with a growling tenor you could almost sing along to. Elias’s stomach bounced as he and Christine held hands and twisted - neither were great dancers, but it was the thought that counted. Christine pet his side discreetly after he sat down, his face starting to get a little shiny.

In der Tat, anregend,” he bowed at Christine. She pantomimed a curtsey,

“Oh absolutely.” She had no idea what he’d actually said. He was grinning like it was something funny, and she’d had enough wine to laugh at just about anything. Tipsiness, Elias’s warmth and the fact that Morgen Existieren had strong psychedelic influences (musically, for sure, though probably in other ways too) left Christine’s head spinning. It wasn’t unpleasant, but as they built to the finale, she started to feel just a little bit overwhelmed.
 
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byutane

Grabby Hands Sr.
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2017
Messages
76
Location
UK
Luckily she sobered up by the time they left, helped along by the cool air outside. It was still raining.

“I should see them again some time,” said Elias, holding Christine round the waist. He could tell it was her turn to need some recovery time.

“I’ll have to settle for their Bandcamp,” Christine told him, enjoying the way his soft arm felt around her. “So. Where to next?” She plucked at his jacket, eyes cast downward. The message was received loud and clear, to judge by Elias’s expression.

“I do actually have one more place I want to take you,” he said quietly, gently pressing his hand against her back as they started to walk again.

“Another one!” Christine gasped, mock surprised. “Elias, at this rate I’ll never get your clothes off.”

“It’s worth it, I promise!” He chuckled, rubbing her back. “I hope you didn’t feel too overstimulated. I realised a bit late that-”

“No-o, it’s fine,” Christine shook her head. “I really enjoyed myself, I did. I go crazy for that like, when it’s almost atonal,”

“When it’s dissonant?”

“I don’t know what it’s called,” Christine snapped her fingers, “but it fucks. Let me get in the rain for a bit, I need to cool off some more.” Elias tilted the umbrella for her. She slowed, then stopped. “This is so good,” she murmured, feeling the sparse droplets work through her hair, leaving soothing rivulets down her scalp. Slowly, she closed her eyes to it, and let it roll down her face too. “Oh, man.” Elias stood beside her, watching. When she opened her eyes, refreshed, she kissed him. Without a word, they started walking again, Christine’s head resting comfortably on his shoulder.

"Here we are!" Eventually he stopped in front of a jeweller's and began folding the umbrella. "Come inside, Chrissie." The shop was small, with a boutique feel, and thanks to the flower vases near the door it all smelled faintly of tulips.

"Oh, this is nice. Are you gonna buy something?" Elias's cheeks darkened slightly.

"I want to buy something for you."

"Me? Elias, you don't have to do that."

"If you'd rather not, then of course it's your choice, but… I'd like to give you something to remember me by."

"I don't know what to say…" Christine scanned a nearby cabinet. It became evident that she would need to locate the low to mid range products. "It's very sweet of you. I promise not to break the bank, okay?"

"Okay!" Elias grinned. Christine found what she was looking for near the back; a small teardrop pendant, made of rose quartz set in silver. Elias placed it around her neck while they stood under the eaves outside.

"Thank you."

"It's very beautiful." Elias gently kissed Christine on the cheek, his hands lingering around her collarbone. "Just like somebody else." Christine giggled,

"But now I should give you something so you remember me."

"Ah, I have my extra inches," Elias patted at his still-bloated middle, "to remind me of my funny, fat-loving English girl."

"Well…" Christine reached into her purse. "You have something else, too…" she unwrapped it, revealing a small carved figure of a bear, rising up on its back legs to its full five inch height. "I don't have many tools with me, just basic chisels, so he's not perfect, but I've been whittling to relax during breaks, so... now he's yours."

"He's very fierce," Elias took it with a smile, giving the bear a pat on the head. "Did you name him?" Christine got a warm feeling in her chest. She really, really liked that he was so willing to go along with play, to be goofy.

"Nope. He's yours, you should do it."

"Then his name is Karl. Don't worry, I'll keep him safe." He gave her another peck on the cheek, sliding Karl into his jacket pocket. "Thank you. I'm truly touched that you made something for me."

"I really appreciate your gift, too," Christine replied, touching her new pendant. "Great minds think alike, huh?"

"Something like that," said Elias warmly. He held the umbrella as they walked through what was now little more than a drizzle, letting a comfortable silence set in. Wordlessly, they found Christine's hotel, and were halfway to her room before she said,

"Hey, aren't I supposed to ask you up for coffee before you invite yourself?" That was the move she'd pulled on their first date, and each time they'd spent the night together since. They made a habit of staying in her hotel room, since Elias lived with roommates and they didn't exactly want to be disturbed.

"No more pretenses, little schatzi," Elias grinned. "I'm going to give you a nice memory of our last night." They started making out almost as soon as they got through the door, each shedding their coats and feeling the other's body enthusiastically. Christine loved the feel of Elias' fat, which was bouncy without being too solid and just thick and soft enough to grab and fondle. Even when he was very full, it cushioned him enough that Christine couldn't feel the firmness of his stomach. His hands slid over her body appreciatively, lingering on the flare of her hips and thighs.

"I think it might take too long to reach the bed," Christine chuckled, gently pushing Elias backwards onto the room's sofa.

"Oh, come here my Kätzchen," Elias breathed, his rugged hands curling around Christine's body and pulling her into his lap. "Du bist so hübsch," his breath was hot and urgent next to her ear, his building need, his excitement, only getting more obvious, "Liebling... Prinzessin… suck my cock, won't you, Schatzi?"

"Not quite as romantic as the first line," Christine smirked, "but it'll more than do." Her fingers sneaked under Elias's stomach, gently feeling its large, warm, elastic heft before undoing his belt. They shifted so she could slip his jeans and boxers down, revealing his already stiff cock.

"You make me feel unstoppable," he told her, voice shuddering as she reached for his member, "like earlier in the restaurant, when I couldn't stop eating-" the words became a moan as she began to stroke him. "I forget moderation."

"As though anything good ever came from moderation," said Christine, pushing up his shirt so she could fondle his flabby lower belly, making him wait for the good part.

"Willst du mich necken?" He asked, smiling, "dangerous game, my Kätzchen." He moved his body to be more horizontal, making his stomach jiggle against her palm. "Please. Ich brauche dich…" at that angle, he developed a small but adorable double chin, the glazed look in his eyes not totally dissimilar to the expression he'd worn just after overeating at dinner. Christine felt a rush of heat between her legs.

"Just for you, greedy thing," she whispered, getting down on her knees in front of the sofa.

"I am so greedy," he keened, anticipating the feeling of her mouth, "please, look after me. Look at me, I have never restrained myself in my life," he grinned and managed to jiggle his stomach for her, "I must have you." Christine decided to tease him a little more. Usually she didn't build up so much, too desperate herself to get to the really good part, but she felt the occasion necessitated some extra anticipation. She ran her tongue and lips up and down the side of his shaft, licking and sucking gently, making him gasp. It was just enough stimulation, teasing him, making him want it all the more. "You torture me, Prinzessin!" Elias breathed, his hips shifting, "ah, ist gut…" finally, Christine slowly took him into her mouth, the wetness built up by her attention making it slide in comfortably. Elias groaned with pleasure, finally rendered unable to ask her for more. She twirled her tongue around his head and sucked gently, continuing to tease him a little. After half a minute, Elias found his voice again and begged,

"The whole thing, Schatzi, please-" and she slid her lips down, sucking and sliding the full length of his cock, making him almost cry out. He'd always been the noisy type. "Ah!" His hips twitched, his voice coming out in bursts, "stop now, Chrissie, stop, or I'll finish-" she let him go, a big grin on her face at seeing him so flushed. "You little tease," he growled happily, "come here again, on my lap."

"Oh? And what are you planning to do with me?"

"Only give you a taste of your own medicine," he replied playfully. Once she was back on the sofa, panties discarded on the floor, he lifted up her dress and started playing with her, gently sliding a thick finger over her entrance. "You think you're the only one who can tease?"

"Mmh," Chrissie moaned, enraptured with the way Elias's fat bunched and folded when he was sat like that. His belly looked so much rounder and plumper than it usually did, his tits flabbier and softer for being pushed against by his stomach. She reached out and cupped his chest, feeling the glorious texture, rubbing against his nipples.

"That's right," he murmured, appreciative of the stimulation, "let's see, now…" he slowly slid a fingertip inside her, finding her hot and slick. He gently beckoned at her g spot, continuing to palm at her clitoris, delighting in watching her melt in his hands. "See, I know what to do with you," he told her, pressing more firmly, making her squirm. "It-"

"Faster!" Christine yelped, leaning forward to rest her arms on the back of the sofa, pushing her breasts into Elias's face in the process. Her lower body felt like it was on fire, desperate for more stimulation, desperate to be filled. Elias used his other hand to pull down her dress and bra so he could kiss her breasts, then pushed two fingers deep inside her, gasping,

"You are too süß not to give you what you want." Christine buried one hand in his hair and reached down to stroke his cock again, with none of the restraint she'd shown before.

"Fuck me, Elias. Fuck me," she moaned, eyes large and sparkling.

"Wunderschön," he whispered. Elias grabbed the condom from the side table and tore it open, sliding it on in seconds. "Fuck me, Christine," he told her, grabbing her thighs as she lowered herself and he slid into her. She was tight with anticipation, the exquisite sensation of her walls squeezing around his cock making the both of them hiss.

"Amazing," said Christine, starting to move, "you're amazing!" Elias was totally inarticulate, only able to keen nonsense as she pushed him deep inside over and over. Her breasts bounced before his eyes, his own stomach matching them as he thrust his hips in turn.

"Fuck!" Their bodies moved like one creature, fluid and single minded, holding, kissing, thrusting and moaning, until Christine and then Elias came, the latter almost bringing the house down with an enthusiastic stream of garbled German. "Perfekte, schöne Chrissie," he finally mumbled, words running together. The perfect, beautiful Chrissie in question rolled off him and collapsed on the sofa, a lovely ache lingering in her lower body. She suddenly became aware of a thumping sound from the nearest wall, and a muffled male voice saying,

"Entweder haltet die Klappe, oder lasst mich mitmachen!"

"Oops," Christine giggled, "what did he say?" Elias was pink, half pleased with himself, half embarrassed.

"He said we should shut up or at least let him join in." Christine laughed, throwing her head back,

"We'd better behave ourselves, then! It's your fault for being so loud!"

"And why do you think I make so much noise?" Elias teased, sliding his hand over her chest. "My Kätzchen looks after me." He started running his fingers through her hair, stroking and petting her scalp. Christine almost purred.

"I love it when you do that."

"Wait a minute for me, and I'll continue," Elias told her, pulling back so he could deal with the condom and take himself to the bathroom. Christine changed into a nightshirt while she waited, her body still warm and tingling. The two curled up in bed together, cuddling and petting and occasionally making out, until finally, they slept. Before she dozed off, with Elias's warm, plump upper arm as her pillow, Christine thought to herself that it just might have been one of those rare, perfect days.

Besides the rain, obviously.
 
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Tad

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The great white north, eh?
That is a great piece on its own! But even more intriguing as the opening, given the promise of magic :)
 

byutane

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Chapter 2

At about 6am, Christine’s ringtone woke the pair. She answered it blearily, only just about recognising the voice on the other end.

“Professor?” She yawned, mouth dry and tasting less than pleasant.

“Christine!” Professor Thomas Black’s usually gentle tones blared through the phone’s speaker. “I’m calling everyone - the site, the rain, it - ugh!” he gabbled, panicked.

“How did the rain defenses hold up?”

“They weren’t enough. It’s very wet now, there are, pools...” The professor took a deep breath. “Christine, a lot of people have already left, and I know you’re also leaving today, but could you spare just an hour or two to help? The dig site is in a real state and it’s only getting worse.”

“What’s the plan, then?”

“Emergency reburying it. There’s only more water coming down from uphill, and it’s very likely that a nearby waterway will flood in the coming day, so…”

“Oh jeez,” Christine murmured. She hadn’t really wanted to spend her final morning with Elias knee deep in mud.

“What’s happening?” Elias whispered, not quite quietly enough.

“Is that Elias?”

“The site is starting to flood, tchotchke,” Christine explained, realising just after she’d said it that she’d used his pet name in front of his professor. There was a brief silence on the line while the gears turned in said professor’s head. The final word came with the tone of a man choosing his words very carefully.

“I know the timing isn’t ideal. But if either of you can be of any help, please come to the dig site as soon as you can.” And he hung up.

“Well, what do you think?” Elias asked.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you-”

“It’s alright, Kätzchen,” Elias smiled. “When he heard me over the line it was obvious what’s been going on. Now, what do you think?” Christine sighed.

“It sucks. But we’ve been working on this site all summer and I don’t want it to get fucked up.” Elias nodded.

“I think the same. I know we’ve not found anything exactly groundbreaking, but it’s a historically significant place. We can’t let it be damaged.” The two were out of the door within ten minutes, and after a bit of light speeding in Elias’ car, they found themselves clutching shovels by 6:45. Professor Black had been elated to see them, since the only other people to show up on such short notice were the few local students and a couple of his personal contacts. Christine and Elias worked in the closest proximity they possibly could, to make it as convenient as it possibly could be to ogle each other while they worked. Despite the continuing rain, fortunately light that morning, pretty soon neither was wearing more than a t-shirt up top. Elias’s chest bobbed with his even, deep breathing, his stomach creasing and folding beautifully over his waistband every time he bent to use his shovel - and, from the looks he was giving her, Christine assumed that her choice of form fitting jeans was a good one.

“How are you getting on?” They’d been instructed to mostly fill in the excavated area and to do so carefully, such that the hydraulic equipment (which would be arriving later) could efficiently dump soil over the top without fear of causing any damage. They’d been getting on well with their assigned corner of the dig, which while generally mercifully shallow, covered quite a generous area.

“I think I need a break soon,” Elias smiled through his obvious fatigue, wiping sweat and rainwater out of his eyes. “Why don’t we go and sit for a minute? I brought us some snacks.” The two sat on some tarp under a propped up umbrella and munched on apples and chocolate bars, too tired to make real conversation. They watched the other, sparse volunteers and stared at the storm clouds which were becoming visible on the horizon. The location was in a relatively shallow valley, surrounded by gentle, rolling hills which promised to soon send a deluge streaming into the dig site.

“Hey,” Christine stopped Elias when he stood, taking his wrist. A low, uncomfortable feeling had begun in her stomach; the sense that she was losing time she’d expected to have with him. That was unexpected, and unexpectedly painful. “I’m glad we’re doing this, but…”

“I know.” He kneeled and put his arms around her shoulders. “Let’s be grateful we had yesterday. This is why we’re here, after all.”

“You’re right.” She let him go. Christine sat for a little longer, sipping at her water bottle. It was strange, seeing the dig being covered up again. It wasn’t as though her cohort had dug it out from scratch, the operation having been well underway when the shipment of students and apprentices she was a part of arrived, but she’d been a part of it. She’d found two samples of bone and even what was suspected to be a piece of (potentially modern but maybe not) pottery, and that meant something, god damn it. With a final swig and a grunt, she got to her feet, grabbed her shovel and moved round to an as of yet untouched chunk of the dig. The rain was already causing problems over there, she could see, markers having been swept out of the exposed earthen wall and into a little pool that was forming at the bottom. She hauled some earth into it, then turned her attention to the walls to make sure she wasn’t damaging anything, trying to slap the stuff flat such that it was covering things up, and that was when she saw it.

It must’ve been shaken loose by the rain.

Nobody had been over here for some time, it being the furthest point from the tents, and why should it be special? Why not leave it for last, haul the soil over the areas you can reach first, when you consider every square inch to be potentially full of treasures?

If she’d been just a little more hasty, a sliver less sharp eyed, she would have missed it.

The mud slid off the shovel’s blade. Christine set it down and hunched over the spot, near her boot, where an old, dead chunk of root had poked out of the soil and fallen away as she’d knocked it, and behind it, there was something shining.

It didn’t make sense for it to shine, of course, and yet mostly hidden in the muck, it did. Her fingertips touched slick metal, and she pulled it out from the earth as easily as if it wanted to be found; a bangle, brown and tarnished, with the unmistakable imprint of a woman carved into its surface. Hypnotised, Christine ran her fingers over it, wiping flecks of dirt and grit from the worn-down surface. The woman was nude, with hair piled like a crown on her head. One hand held a sceptre, and the other rested on the head of a massive cat.

Christine realised what she was doing, gasped, and dropped it.

“Professor!”

After the incident with the bone sample, there was no way she was going to tell Professor Black that she’d handled it barehanded. It had slid, mercifully undamaged, from the earth, loosened by the weather. It wouldn’t hurt anyone to think that, much as the lie made Christine's stomach ache. It was in shockingly good condition, regardless, as the professor himself excitedly observed while he properly bagged and labelled it. He commended Christine as though she’d done anything more than get lucky, complimenting her observational skills even in the most dire of circumstances, and soon after it was time for Elias to take her back to her hotel.

“Take a shower with me,” she purred, brushing dirt off his cheek.

“I need to get back, prinzessin…” he sighed wistfully, hands lingering on her body. “I would love to, but I'm needed back at the dig." Just then, his phone vibrated. He unlocked it and immediately flushed a strawberry shade.

"What is it?"

"Professor Black tells me... to take all the time I need saying goodbye."

"Do you think you'll get course credit for giving me a good send-off?" She started kissing his neck, despite the fact that he was still gawping at his phone screen.

"I can't believe my professor is telling me to fuck, that's all."

"We covered a lot of ground and he's happy you brought me along, so I'm not all that surprised."

"Of course he’s happy, you found-”

“I know, I know.” Christine gently bit his earlobe, trying to steer the conversation away from her nagging guilt at having mishandled another important sample. “So, come on. Shall we?”

“Oh, yes." Showering took longer than Christine had anticipated. She almost lost track of time entirely, too wrapped up in Elias’s body to think entirely clearly. The smoothness of his skin and the plush texture of his chubbiness were irresistible to her, even more so when emphasised by hot water and shower gel. Squeezing his hips with soapy hands, finding the soft roll that was forming alongside his plump chest, kissing his chubby cheeks and enjoying his fingers brushing between her legs - then progressing to a long kiss, a firm grope, and Elias’s stiff cock rubbing against her body.

“Hang on - if you crouch down just a little bit-” she wrapped her arms around his shoulders to stabilise herself, then slipped his cock between her thighs. The warm, soapy water made her inner thighs slick, surrounding it with frictionless softness. Elias thrusted gently, rubbing against Christine’s clit, continuing to appreciate her body with his hands. “That’s it.”

“I haven’t done this before,” Elias breathed, “your whole body feels so good, Chrissie…”

“So does yours, but shh,” then Christine kissed him, trying to get lost in her senses. Just for a little while. Just for long enough to forget that she couldn’t stay there forever.

All too soon, she was engaged in the tragically un-sexy business of frantically trying to get dressed while directing Elias on how to get her hair dryer to fit in her carry-on bag. Laden with a large rucksack and a pull along suitcase, they piled into his Škoda and tore up the asphalt to Hannover Airport. The car journey and the sprint through the airport to check in her luggage and find security went by in a whirl, somehow ending up with a few minutes to spare. When Christine and Elias finally came to a bedraggled stop, they hardly knew what to do with themselves.

“Well.” Christine glanced at her watch for the umpteenth time. “At least we can do a proper goodbye, eh?”
 
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byutane

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“I’m glad.” Elias gave her a comforting hug, palms flat on her back. “You are a lovely woman, Schatzi. Thank you for spending your time in Germany with me.”

“Of course!” When they pulled away she touched the pendant he’d given her, since she found the feel of its smooth surface reassuring. “Come on, I had my eyes on you from the second we were introduced.”

“I really didn’t think my winter weight would come to be so useful,” Elias chuckled, patting his stomach. “I don’t know if this is obvious, but I have felt so comfortable with you, Chrissie. I have more confidence in myself than I did before.”

“Would it be cheesy if I said you’ve made me feel the same way?” It was true, after all; regardless of his modest spare tyre, Elias was popular and smart and sociable and had an objectively, extremely pretty face, and his confident golden-boy aura was infectious. Like most people (she assumed, anyway), Christine considered herself average. But Elias clearly didn’t think she was. That was nice. And sure, the relationship was going to end; but maybe that part didn’t have to.

Thinking logically, she knew they’d been playing on easy mode. Any incompatibilities could be kicked harmlessly down the road and into September, when they wouldn’t be an item anymore and it wouldn’t matter. That was why she didn’t feel sad saying goodbye to him, and hopefully, he didn’t feel that way either. All she could think was…

“I’m so grateful to have met you, Elias Köhler.”

"The same to you, Chrissie Becker." They shared a final kiss. Elias's hand slid down her arm, lingering at her wrist. "You should probably go. You can't miss it."

"You're right." He gave her hand a squeeze.

"Let me know you arrive home safely, okay?"

"I will." She rubbed her thumb over his, then let go, grabbed her suitcase, and walked away. As a turn came up she looked back and waved. Elias waved back. And then he was gone.

Christine navigated the rest of the airport in a very still state of mind. She scrolled through Twitter in the check in queue, piled her electronics into the security tray without a word, and hardly had time to find a seat in the waiting area before she was boarding the plane and switching her phone off and thinking about starting on the book she'd brought.

It was something like a recovery. Not from anything bad, obviously, but it was suddenly very real to her that Elias was gone - the program was over - she was going home. The flurry of activity that morning had almost felt like a continuation of sorts, an unexpected bonus.

That bangle.

Something about luck.

The flight to Heathrow took about an hour and a half. Christine read her book for most of it, a relatively digestible tome about the excavation of the Gussage All Saints settlement which her curator, Gloria, had recommended to her. Once she was back at the museum, she'd be working in lots of different areas once again, but there couldn't be any harm in shoring up her archeological ambitions. Gloria could be hard nosed, but she recognised dedication. That was what had gotten Christine on the Celle program in the first place, after all.

Still, she took the opportunity to nap for the last twenty minutes before landing, her travel fatigue hitting early. She grabbed a coffee to keep herself from totally collapsing during the train journey back to Basingstoke; a sweaty, two hour slog that was nonetheless somehow reassuring. There was something about being home, drifting closer and closer to turf she knew like the back of her hand, until eventually she was climbing the stairs to her apartment and sliding the key into the lock and collapsing onto her own, familiar, comfy sofa.

Home.

She sighed. What relief!

And she wanted nothing more than a quiet evening with a hot water bottle, a book that had nothing to do with work whatsoever, and a plate of pasta. She hadn't realised until that moment just how much she missed being able to switch off for a second. An adventure is all well and good, absolutely, but without a moment to rest, it tires the hell out of you. While she boiled some water and tossed herself a salad for her appetiser, Christine imagined she knew how Bilbo felt having finally returned to the Shire.

While she waited for dinner to cook, she thought to turn her phone back on. First and foremost, she saw that Elias had sent her a text - just two x's. She let him know that she was home, she was tired, and she hoped he would have a chance to recover before he had to get back to work with the professor in the morning. She signed off with a single x. Then she realised that Thomas had sent her a message himself. It began,

C.” That was how he always addressed people via text; Christine was sure he thought it saved time, somehow. “Hav sent a colleague pics of ur find. Looks very promising! Wil keep u updated. Say hello to Gloria for me. Safe journey!!” She opened the attachment, which turned out to be a grainy jpeg of a fist pumping baby. She took a screenshot - of the message, not the baby - and forwarded it to Elias, then to the museum staff group chat, and finally to Susie and Philip. It felt surprisingly, encouragingly comfortable to put him in the same mental box as was occupied by her friends and colleagues.

Anyway. Regardless of the exciting potential of the find, Christine's arms and back were feeling a dull ache from the extended heavy lifting that morning, such that when she'd finally eaten and poured herself a glass of wine and curled up on the sofa with a ragged copy of Good Omens… she fell asleep almost immediately. Luckily for her, she had the next day off, a favour from Gloria in recognition of her hard work at the Celle dig.

Little did she know how badly she would need it.

It didn't take long for Christine to slip into a dream. She'd had lucid ones a couple of times before, soft, elastic experiences which usually revolved around some combination of a) flying and b) an enthusiastic, attractive sexual partner. This dream, it seemed, was shaping up to be one of those. Christine was walking through a series of white rooms, some of which had open walls that led outside to rolling scenery - like the hills in Celle, only pale and fluffy as though the grass had been replaced with cumulus. And then she entered what she immediately, innately understood to be a throne room.

A woman was standing before her there, towering over her - as can be the way with dreams, it was as though she was as tall as a skyscraper, but she could still fit in that room with Christine and make eye contact with pupils that looked like they could spew fire. Her hair was flowing in a wide and dark halo around her head, gathered white cloth covered her lower body but left a muscular torso on display, a sceptre was clutched in one hand while the other pointed at Christine with an accusatory air.

The woman spoke.

"You." Christine didn't feel as afraid as she supposed she ought to. Probably because she knew it was just a dream.

"Hello."

"Do you recognise me, mortal?" The woman's voice boomed and echoed despite the relatively open space.

"I do reckon you look a bit like the engraving on that bangle from earlier. Fine coincidence, that." Christine yawned. The mystery woman blinked. "Hang on for a sec. I'm going to change up the scenery a bit with my brain." She tried to concentrate her way into a buffet, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference.

"Oh, for the love of…" the woman snapped her fingers.

"Ah, sweet! I guess you're in control of this dream," said Christine cordially. They'd been brought to a comfortable living room, a good bit more upscale and spacious and significantly more pink than Christine's was, but not too manicured. Instead of the fire and fury look, her companion was now of a more usual height and wearing a blush-pink silk dressing gown.

"Quite," said the woman. Her words still had a certain audiological gravitas to them, like you could hear that they should be underlined and in bold, though they too had shrunk to fit the more casual surroundings. "Come here and sit with me. Have a drink." Christine sat on the corner sofa with her and sipped some wine. It tasted so real, she wondered if she was somehow drinking the forgotten glass from before she'd fallen asleep. Hopefully she didn't break anything if that was the case. A fat, shaggy-furred cat slunk out from behind a curtain, a big tortoiseshell spoiled-looking thing. It padded over to the woman and stared at her with black eyes until she picked it up and cuddled it on her lap. "You seem rather clueless," said the woman after Christine had gotten through half the glass, "so I'll be blunt. You have pissed me off, young lady."

Christine choked.

"Excuse me?" She put down her wine. "Who even are you?'

"Oh," that dark hair started to stand on end again, lifting itself like tentacles. The cat let out a low meow. "Only the minor goddess whose property you disrespected earlier today. You might have heard of me?"

"Oh my god you are the chick from the bangle," Christine muttered. "This is wild." The woman frowned.

"Freyja." Christine snapped her fingers,

"I knew I recognised that iconography! God, I'll have to text professor Black in the morning. Obviously I won't tell him my hunch is based on a dream, but, nice!"

"This is far from nice," Freyja leaned towards Christine, one eyebrow arched critically, "Christine." There was a pause. It might have been Christine's imagination - hell, it was, it absolutely was because this was all just a dream - but the cat almost looked like it shared Freyja's skepticism.

"If you expect me to, like, ask you all shocked about how you know my name, I already know. You're just a character my subconscious thought up."

"Stop that nonsense, you know that's not true." The supposed goddess rolled her eyes. "Odin, am I sick of modern mortals. Always think they're so savvy. Just listen, sweetie, alright?" She threw back the remainder of her own glass of wine. "I've been watching you. You and that tubby German boy."

"Elias? Oh, go on, he's not that fat."

"Oh, for..." Freyja muttered, partly to herself, partly to her cat. "No respect. You and your fat German boy, Christine - you two are meant for each other. I've had to adapt to modern romance, and it hasn't been easy I'll grant you, but I still know destiny when I see it. You are meant to be with him."

"Uhh," Christine leaned back, baffled. "No. No way. Off the mark by a mile."

Freyja sighed. Her voice came a little gentler. "I'll level with you, it's been excellent watching your relationship develop. I get bored these days, you know? My areas of influence aren't that many, not like old times, so I take what I can get regarding entertainment. And I've been loving it. I can't let you walk away from something like that for no good reason - I mean what's the problem, is it his size?"

"What? Hang on - no! Dude, it's literally everything else!" Christine spluttered, baffled as to how her subconscious could be so out of touch with her feelings. "The, fuckin', distance, for one! I barely know anything about his politics, aside from the fact that he's not a bigot, which… you know, low bar. I don't think he wants kids, which is a problem, he doesn't read very much or enjoy the same movies as I do, he can be kind of presumptuous, we just don't-!" Freyja was staring at Christine as her explanation turned into a rant, one finger on her chin and an unimpressed expression on her face. The cat had crossed its paws. "It's just not like that. We don't click like that. Okay?"

"When a goddess with the experience of centuries tells you your destiny," the woman's eyes started to crackle. Some kind of energy had begun flowing through her, a fire, or maybe a bolt of lightning, or both. Dangerous light was shining out of her. "It is customary to listen."

"Well you have zero seconds of experience being me," Christine stood up. "Young lady." Freyja's eyes promptly burst into flame. She didn't have to stand up to be taller than Christine, now. Her cat hissed.

"You know, you really shouldn't have touched my things. When you do something like that, it lets me do something like this."

"Hey!" Christine's voice was lost, too small to be heard over the roar of the fire. Those eyes were sucking her in, becoming the only two things in the world.

"Until you have learned some humility, you will live with a punishment of my choosing." Darkness set in, the only light streaming from those twin fires. "Call him, Christine. Or else forever suffer for the crime of walking away from true love."

Christine woke up.

Something had changed.
 

byutane

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Lovely twist with Freyja appearing! Looking forward to the next installment.

Thank you fat hiker! I'm going to try and stick to an approximate weekly update schedule, though of course that's easy to say while I'm still getting through posting the early chapters that have been finished for a while now 😂 I hope chapter 3 lives up to your expectations :)
 

byutane

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Thanks again to those leaving comments and reactions :) this chapter is a bit plot heavy, but I hope it's still enjoyable.

Chapter 3

For one thing, the ceiling looked wrong. Much further away than Christine thought it really should be. Her body felt strange - maybe she'd slept on something wrong. She tried to lift her head, but found the rest of her lifting too, sending her forwards to sit up. The sofa was… bigger.

And her legs were a lot shorter.

And white.

And fluffy.

Christine let out a piercing, panicked yowl, tearing off the sofa and around the living room with her claws out, pinwheeling in confusion; everything was big, and her body felt strange and unwieldy but somehow fluid, and the only sound she could make was -

She tried to wake up. Maybe she was still just dreaming - all she needed to do was concentrate - but then she slammed into the leg of the coffee table and fell to the carpet in a heap.

Alright, maybe she was awake.

It took her a good few minutes of careful thought before she felt ready to stand up again. She made her way into the bedroom on four wobbly legs, pushing the door further open with her forehead, and looked at herself in the full-length mirror.

Staring back with wide, green eyes was a white Maine Coon cat.

Christine yowled again.

The only conclusion she could come to was that - well - she'd been cursed. She'd snubbed some kind of unknowable, unfathomable supernatural force, and it had decided to fuck with her. When faced with extraordinary circumstances such as these, the only thing that made any sense was to roll with them. So, roll she did.

The first coherent question, naturally, was; could this be permanent?

No, if she was to take her dream seriously, all she needed to do was call Elias. She tried saying something - all that came out was a meow. Well, that wasn't going to work. Plus he would probably be asleep, since to judge by the clock it was about 2 in the morning. Therefore, logically, she was likely to get a chance to become human again - or at least regain the ability to speak. Christine slunk about in front of the mirror, weaving her head back and forth, placing one paw in front of the other and back again. Getting used to it.

She thought she didn't make a bad cat, in fact. Her fur was soft and clean, her eyes were bright, and - yes, she could see sparkling in amongst the thick fur of her chest, the necklace that Elias had bought for her. Maybe that was Freyja's idea of a hint. Christine tried jumping, and managed to launch herself into the wall. Ouch. Things evidently worked differently for cats.

The next hour was spent working on her coordination. Christine tried leaping onto her bed, but she kept skidding and sliding off. Her paw pads were difficult to use precisely - she managed to climb onto the coffee table and unlock her phone, but texting was unwieldy and obviously voice recognition was out. And the tools to test writing weren't readily available. Damn.

With no way out of the flat and little to do except cannonball herself off, onto and into the furniture, Christine soon got tired out. The reality of her situation was somewhat mentally exhausting as well as physically, meaning come the wee hours she was inevitably curled up on the sofa, snoozing once again. If things hadn't changed by the time she woke up, she promised herself she'd contact a friend and go all Garfield the Movie on them.

She didn't dream again that night. When morning finally came and Christine woke up to the sun filtering through the curtains, she took a quiet minute to process the sight of her - human, totally human - hands in front of her. It was okay. Everything was okay. It had only ever been a dream.

And then she looked at the floor and saw that it was covered in claw marks and white cat hair.

"Oh, shit."

This was definitely too much to deal with head on. Christine promptly left the room and hopped in the shower, indulging herself in the trappings of normalcy while still trying to process what had happened the night before.

So she was turning into a cat.

Having confirmed that she wasn't stuck as a feline, Christine felt she could relax a little bit. This situation required further observation before she went running to Elias.

"No rest for the wicked, I suppose," she muttered as she dried herself off.

First thing's first - the bangle. She drafted a response to Professor Black while still dressed in a towel;

"Hi Professor, I've been doing some research and I think I have reason to believe that the depiction on the bangle is of a Freyja type goddess. However I think there's also good reason to link it to a more trickster-like figure. Would you be available for a video call to discuss further? Christine"

She was painfully aware of the fact that she texted like a nervous middle manager. Whatever, so long as she could get a lead on this. Christine tried to further compartmentalise the events of the previous night while she got dressed, consciously focusing in on the suddenly very noticeably human movements of her body, only to realise she'd chosen a fluffy white turtleneck to go with her pale blue jeans. It was quickly replaced with a plain black hoodie in a huff.

Technically it was a day off, but there was no way she could relax. After a quick breakfast, Christine figured she might as well go and do some research, try to get some decent evidence to back up her assertions about the bangle's iconography. Luckily she had access to a decent and, importantly, specialised library in the museum, so that would be the first place to go.

Just her luck that she should bump into Krish on the way down.

Krish was a guy who lived in the same building as Christine. She'd spoken to him a few times, even going so far as to ask him (basically platonically, essentially, if you asked) out for a coffee once, but every single time he'd been colder towards her than a Russian winter. Hell, she only even knew his name from seeing it on a parcel that’d been waiting outside his door once. Still... Christine couldn't stop her own temperature rising a few degrees every time she saw him. He was tall, with fluffy black hair and a strong, rounded nose and thick expressive eyebrows - even if most of the time they weren't exactly expressing anything good. His skin was a warm brown and he wore frameless glasses that magnified his eyes, which again, didn't tend to give the impression he was ever in anything approaching a good mood, but Christine liked them anyway.

Plus, he was really fat. He was tall, and big, and broad, and Christine had to be honest with herself, that was what first caught her interest. Soon after she moved in she'd ridden the lift with him, her heart thudding like crazy at being in close proximity to a guy of that size. She took in the soft, heavy belly, the wide hips and thick thighs, and flabby arms which strained the sleeves of a hoodie that draped over each side of his stomach like an open curtain. It was obviously far too small to close over his magnificent body. Little details like that were what made Christine really squirm - was he holding onto the thing because it was comfortable? Sentimental? Or was he just in denial about how big he was? He had to weigh at least 160 kilograms, maybe even 170. She'd been able to get a decent (and extremely careful) look at him because he had his eyes glued to a book - Wyrd Sisters. Discworld.

Sure, he might have been chilly, but she never completely abandoned the little crush she had on him. She simply couldn’t help herself.

Despite her distraction that day, Christine smiled and nodded at Krish when they passed each other. It wasn’t hard. He’d only gotten cuter (and softer) in the months since those heart pounding few minutes in the lift. She kept her eyes up, trying not to stare at his wide body and slow gait. He looked at her, gave the smallest hint of a nod, then snapped his eyes forward again. Why should such a miserable bastard also be so intriguing? Life just wasn't fair. What’s more, the encounter gave her just the smallest sting of missing Elias - Elias and his warm, cuddly arms and soft stomach, ultimate teddy-bear-like comforts in uncertain times. How frustrating… but she would not give in.

The train journey to the museum was uneventful, though unfortunately it did start to rain. Christine used to not mind it. But it had developed certain connotations. Plus, she had a weird foreboding that it was going to turn into a storm, and she got the urge to curl up with her knees to her chest. If she wasn’t half scared some supernatural instinct would take over and leave her as a cat on the other side of town, she’d think it was funny.

The walk through the station and across the plaza helped, the familiar scenery serving to comfort her. The gaggle of high-street shops leading up to the museum, the mosaic pattern of coloured bricks that spiraled across the ground, the concrete bollards that had been painted by local school children. The atmosphere was cheap and cheerful, and the museum foyer was the same; depictions of historic Basingstoke rendered in primary colours on the walls, dotted with simple displays that squatted at child-height behind cloudy plexiglass. There was nobody around, since there were still a good few hours until the museum opened.

Christine wished she was better with children than she actually was. Recalling what she’d said to Freyja the night before, it did seem a little ridiculous to dismiss Elias (stop thinking about him) for his lack of interest in having any when Christine herself always panicked around them. There was a reason she was always the last person to talk to school trip parties - kids can smell fear. And they don’t pull their punches, literally or figuratively. So Christine was largely confined to the quote-unquote boring parts of the museum. Far from the interactive recreated historical scenes, Christine spent her days handling exhibits, knowing where everything was kept in storage, navigating and organising the archives and lingering in the library. The library which would hopefully make for a good start in her investigation.
 

byutane

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The place had gotten messy in Christine's absence. It was a deceptively small space, crammed with books of widely diverse types and origins with a number of rare volumes kept in glass cases for their preservation. It was initially built with sensible, tall shelves organised in a grid with clear plates to indicate subject, but over the years little cubbyholes had developed by the walls and even on top of existing shelves, extensions and cul-de-sacs to denote the importance of certain works or historical digressions, until it became a papery, varnished-oak maze. Christine always did her very best to maintain the system which the museum purported to use, but there always came a certain point where knowing exactly which category a certain book was filed under and why it was in an odd shelf off to the side was necessary to avoid a single query from an inexperienced person potentially turning the entire library into a shambles.

Knowing concentration would be impossible otherwise, she spent twenty minutes sorting the mess, putting papers back in their proper folders and making sure things were in alphabetical order. All the cabinet keys were present and accounted for. The small writing desk that'd become overtaken with stray volumes was clear. And Christine was ready.

"Chris!" She jumped, twirling around with the odd sense that her fur was standing on end.

"Gloria!" Indeed it was her curator, wearing a small grin and standing with her hands on her hips. "You almost gave me a heart attack!"

"You know the best way to court one of those is with overwork, right?" Gloria crossed her arms, not unkindly but with trademark no-nonsense energy. She was a tall, tan, dark-haired woman with striking features and a pair of half moon glasses that made her look like a combination professor and TV psychic. Her thick, wavy hair was swept into a chunky braid for the working day and her pair of dark eyebrows was raised at Christine archly. "You have the day off, Chris. The library won't burn down without you, you know."

"I have some research I want to do," Christine explained, trying to put together in her head what she should be telling Gloria and how. The guilt that automatically flooded her chest with the knowledge that she'd have to lie about her curse was replaced with genuine exhilaration at the prospect of telling Gloria about the bangle. "Professor Black called everyone back to the dig site on the last day for an emergency reburial - there was going to be a flood. And while I was there I found -"

"What is very possibly a 7th century depiction of a warrior goddess. Thomas filled me in." The corners of Gloria's mouth curled upward. "Good job, Chris." Christine beamed,

"It was luck, really -"

"Isn't it always? Come on, from what I heard, you did an excellent job." Gloria clapped a congratulatory hand firmly on her shoulder, eyes bright, "you're methodical, you're thorough, and you're dedicated. People like that make their own luck." Christine swallowed. If only she really had been all those things. She managed to bite her tongue. "And don't worry about bothering Thomas, okay?" Gloria let Christine go and took a seat on the desk, low as it was. "He's probably even more excited about this than you are. Tell me, Chris - what gives you the idea that the depiction is specifically linked to Freyja?" Christine felt her mouth getting dry. A question from Gloria could feel like an interrogation under the best of circumstances - how on earth did she always manage to pry into the topic you were the least prepared to explain?

"Well…" Christine swallowed, trying to think.

"Why not Frigg? Hell, why not Skadi, or Sif for that matter?" Christine almost said, it couldn't be Sif, in the dream her hair had been brown!

Then, the obvious came to her.

"The cat." She cleared her throat, "and - I did say, I think it may be a Freyja type depiction. Frigg would indeed be the natural alternative choice, since there's the possibility of a shared origin, but that still doesn't explain the big cat." Gloria nodded.

"Often the best answer is staring us right in the face." Elias. Damn it! "So what's your next step?"

"I was thinking - there might be some significance to the staff, or the pose, or her hair… to further explain what she's about. Confirm her identity one way or another." Christine thought fast, and her stomach lurched at the half truth, "and I think the way her hair is piled up indicates maybe a - a matchmaker, kind of role." Gloria raised an eyebrow.

"And what makes you think that's the significance of the hairstyle?"

"I -" Christine gulped, cursing herself for pushing her luck. "I don't know."

"It’s a nice theory, but you probably want to do some reading around it instead of trying to go from the imagery directly. Also consider the medium - the object, quite aside from the act of making the inscription itself, is decorative. It’s going to belong to someone high class, and since it’s in the old Germanic tradition, I think it has to be pre-conversion. I will tell you that I think it’s more likely to be some kind of combination Frigg/Freyja figure - but, you know I love to be proven wrong.” Gloria got to her feet, her speech concluded. “First thing’s first, though. Take a break.” Christine fidgeted. Maybe Gloria was right. And maybe she should wait on Thomas for more guidance.

“Just let me grab a book or two?”

“Like I can stop you!” Gloria laughed. “Just take it easy, okay? You look twitchy. Let that jetlag work itself out.”

“Got it.” The room felt extremely quiet with Gloria gone. Christine half wished she would come back - maybe she should tell her about what was going on, push for some more targeted help - but that still didn’t feel like a good idea. There was a part of Christine that was hoping it would just clear up by itself, a part that was seeming increasingly credible the longer Christine spent getting settled back into her normal life. It helped that research surrounding her find was something she no doubt would have pursued anyway. Hell, maybe the next night would be totally uneventful.

Christine lost the afternoon to reading. She didn’t know a ton about the Saxons outside of the UK, so she decided to shore up her general knowledge before specialising to sources about even the broadest of religious practices. Widukind, the old Saxon noble who opposed king Charlemagne, was her eventual entry point into reading about more folkloric figures - though at least he’d probably been a real guy, in some capacity. The same couldn’t be said for the figure in her dream… unless she was dealing with not a god, but a ghost.

Her concentration was finally broken when she received a text, the hotly anticipated reply from Professor Black agreeing to chat with her later that week. Unless Gloria somehow got any less busy (which was unlikely), she would be on her own until then. Christine’s stomach growled, annoyed at her negligence since that morning, and she realised that it was already starting to get late. Walking through the empty museum and out into the late afternoon, Christine suddenly felt a burst of ennui. Anyone would say that she should be so excited. She should be looking at the future with bright eyes, thinking about how to leverage her find to get onto another dig and luxuriating in the memories of her trip, not getting anxious about whether she was going to transform into a housepet. To cheer herself up and, importantly, better secure herself in the real world, Christine decided she should make an effort that night with dinner. Paella sounded good - something with seafood…

After a quick shopping trip, Christine arrived back at her flat in high spirits. She swept the floor of white fur and wiped down the kitchen surfaces, thinking predominantly about the fresh, sharp scent of the mussels, clams and shrimp she'd picked up for the paella. Their aroma stood out like a bright beacon in fog, cutting through the musty background scent of the city and activating a hotwire directly to Christine's stomach. The sea had never smelled so good before.

She chopped the peppers, onion, garlic and chorizo, not completely trusting herself to wash the mussels and clams until she was fully in the Cooking Zone. The impulse to just eat one directly kept flashing in her mind, and she didn’t particularly want to try it. Still, she managed to finish prep without going feline ahead of time, and turned on a podcast to amuse herself while the sofrito cooked. Usually Christine gravitated towards cultured affairs about history and travel, but Spotify had chosen to push a cheesy show about supposed supernatural stories to the front of her queue. Wondering if maybe she would end up being interviewed on one of these one day, she chose to turn her brain off a little bit and listen to the story of the flatwoods monster.

It’d almost certainly been just a barn owl and some freaky shadows. Christine knew it was irrational to think about; cryptozoology was full of people who’d already made their minds up, after all… but what if she did transform again? And what if she couldn’t fix things? Maybe at some point in her life she might accidentally set off some kind of legend like this, and that was an awful prospect. Christine didn’t want to be at the heart of some massive deception. Better than being taken seriously and becoming some kind of medical or scientific test subject, sure, but….

Damn it, now she was thinking about E.T. She did not want to go E.T.

It was time to simmer the rice. Christine switched over to her more usual fare, an episode of Loremen she’d listened to plenty of times before. It was comforting, and the paella was starting to smell really good (especially when she added the shellfish), and Christine felt herself relax again. She realised that the brief mental stress had raised her up on the balls of her feet, making her resolutely bring her heels back to earth again.

I am not turning into a cat, she told herself. I am in control of this situation, as she stirred the paella entirely too aggressively. Dinner would be ready soon, and it suddenly felt strangely lonely that she wouldn’t be sharing it with anyone. Back on the dig, people were eating communally every day, taking turns as head chef and helping each other out to make enough for everyone. While the paella cooled, Christine texted Susie and Philip to ask whether they wanted to come over - Susie lived nearby-ish and though it was a bit of a stretch in Philip’s case, there was still the slim possibility that they could make it and she wouldn’t have to spend the evening by herself.

Christine had no luck. Philip was babysitting his sister's kid and Susie had a deadline on an essay she'd been procrastinating on. Apologies and don't-worry-about-its were exchanged, but Christine felt even more alone than she had before. Seconds later, as though on a cue from Freyja herself, she received a text from Elias - a casual what's up, how are you doing text. "Hope you're well rested and recovering from your trip."

Christine desperately wanted to tell him what was going on. But there was no way he'd believe her, hell, she hardly believed it herself. And if there was one thing that remained resolute in her mind, it was this; she and Elias were not meant to last. She wasn't about to let anything push her around.

Elias got a friendly reply and a couple of memes about Saxons for his efforts, before Christine turned off her phone and decided not to look at it again until the next morning. She gloomily doled half the paella into tupperware and served the rest for herself. Then she had an idea.

It wasn't a particularly good one. It would almost certainly result in failure, and probably also embarrassment. But… the idea of inviting Krish over because she accidentally made too much paella was incredibly tempting.

Krish had existed on her periphery for months. Now, with her evening empty and even a hint of acknowledgement from the guy earlier that day under her belt, seemed like the time to make a real move. Sure, he'd blown her last invitation off, but maybe he just didn't like coffee! Maybe he'd been busy! It couldn't hurt to try. It was only neighbourly to try. Maybe he'd even spy the collection of Earthsea books on her shelf and the little hand-carved effigy of the Death of Rats and be coaxed into some conversation. What a perfect scene that would be… Krish’s big body nestled on her sofa, asking her which Fellowship member was her favourite (the answer was Merry), maybe even complimenting her cooking. And finally having a reason to smile at her.

Christine left her paella on the side. Noting the beautiful sunset, and thinking she'd seen somewhere that it was going to be a warm night, she opened one of the windows in the living room. She padded down the stairs, then the corridor in her socks, sidestepping the apparently unshiftable weird stain in the carpet, only faltering once she was actually at Krish’s door. She took a deep breath, clenched her fists, and closed her eyes. Just for a moment, to gather her courage.

When Christine looked again, the door was approximately twenty feet tall and all her extremities were planted firmly on the floor.

Ah shit, she thought. It’s Shrek rules.
 

Tad

Dimensions' loiterer
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The great white north, eh?
Tricky turn in the story, handled so well. I know I keep going on about this, but I'm really enjoying your writing as well as the story. At this point I'm on board for any and all twists and turns to come :)
 

byutane

Grabby Hands Sr.
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Tricky turn in the story, handled so well. I know I keep going on about this, but I'm really enjoying your writing as well as the story. At this point I'm on board for any and all twists and turns to come :)

Oh my gosh Tad it's really too kind of you to say, thank you ;o; I don't think anybody would get tired of hearing that about their style. Watch out next week for more developments 💫
 

byutane

Grabby Hands Sr.
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Chapter 4

So, no Krish. At least not that evening. Christine made her way back towards her door, disoriented by the sudden change in distances. Her sense of smell had received another boost, which only made her more eager to avoid that stain. Just getting up the stairs felt like an obstacle course. Butting her head and shoulders against the door was, thankfully, enough to get it open a crack, and she struggled to push it totally wide for a good minute before remembering that she could just slink through. Then there was the lock to think about - she couldn’t exactly combat a home invader in her condition. By repeating the headbutt method she was able to bring a small plastic stool to the door, which, if she stood on it and stretched as hard as she could, enabled her to reach the lock’s lever and flip it downwards. Granted, she fell off the stool with the force of doing so, but what of it? At least she was safe.

Safe. That was an interesting way of putting things. Christine surveyed herself in the mirror with what was obviously, even on a cat, a dejected expression. Better get used to it, she supposed. If this was going to be her routine, at least it wouldn’t get in the way of things like work or most of her social life. And anyway, in the moment there were more important things to consider, for example; could cats eat paella?

Christine decided that since she was to be human most of the time, it made sense that she’d be okay with human food, and even if she wasn’t - well, that was Freyja’s fault. And no way was she about to waste good paella. Leaping onto the kitchen counter was a little easier than she’d found it the night before, which was good for her stomach, but a little disconcerting in that she seemed to be becoming increasingly adept in her feline body. Hopefully that wouldn’t push something human out of her brain.

The paella was excellent, no doubt Krish would have loved it if he’d had the chance to, though Christine had to leave a good deal untouched thanks to her smaller body. She gave grooming a try to get rid of the sauce clinging to her muzzle, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to lick her paws, so she turned on the tap (both clumsy paws were enlisted for the purpose) and made do with water instead. Sated and feeling really rather awake, like she’d freshly woken up from a nap, Christine wondered if there was any way she could… somehow take advantage of her situation. Not just spend the night watching TV and pacing around her flat.

It was then that she remembered the open window.

Christine jumped smoothly onto the sill and preserved her momentum down to the fire escape, which happened to run just past her window. She made a mental note to return before the morning - would she fit through there in her human body? No idea. She picked her way down the steps, adjusting to the weird steepness of them, and elected to stalk along the short wall that ran alongside her building instead of using the pavement. It wasn’t exactly the equivalent of where her eyeline usually would have been, but it was significantly less disorienting than being at ground level. And there was plenty to be disoriented by.

The intensified senses that Christine had noticed on her excursion earlier that day were back in full force, now feeding her information from a much wider area than she’d ever experienced at once. She was catching sounds and scents from streets over, often in ranges that were absolutely alien to her. A high-pitched whine from - she wasn’t sure where, somewhere far away - reached her, and she could tell that her body knew more about it than she did. It was like seeing a new colour. She wondered, if she’d been put into the body of a mantis shrimp, would she even be able to describe the things she saw? Or would she be equally as helpless in the face of senses she’d never developed a skill in understanding, only able to say, well - you know octarine? Like that, I guess.

The whine suddenly decreased drastically in pitch and whirred past her in a flurry of overwhelming noise, almost knocking Christine off her perch on the wall. She regained her concentration just in time to see a motorcycle turn the corner at the end of the street. This was something she was familiar with, at least; managing her sensory sensitivity came naturally. So going near the main road was an obvious no.

Instead, Christine wandered around her suburb, jumping onto cars and low-hanging tree branches as she went, balancing her way along metal fences and swaying her tail with excitement. The air might’ve been perceptibly grimier than her human nose was capable of noticing and the streetlamps might’ve been near impossible to look directly at, but the way her body was capable of flowing and following through with her movements made her feel almost like she was flying.

Until, of course, she wasn’t.

In a stomach-flipping moment, Christine’s back foot got tangled with her foreleg while she was trying to land on a garden wall, sending her sideways and rolling heavily over a patch of grass and flowers. She reflexively yowled and grunted, preparing for the worst, but luckily the foliage had done something to break her fall. While she didn’t feel quite as steady on her feet afterwards, it didn’t take her too long to stand up again. Except… as she shook herself off and properly took in her surroundings, she realised that something smelled... off. Movement behind her. A rustle in the undergrowth. She twisted to look, coming face to face with - another cat.

Now this was a trip. The cat approximately shared her proportions, but of course it seemed like a giant - to Christine's usual perception, a person-sized cat - which she hadn't been prepared for. Hadn't even considered that she might have to face another animal.

"Mrowl." Christine clamped down on her voice. She'd tried to say hello. But that's not how cats communicate. The stranger, a greying tabby with green eyes, circled Christine, investigating. It didn't seem to like what it smelled. Christine remembered that cats take a slow blink as a sign of trust, one that'd been a hell of a lot less intimidating to give when she wasn't face to face with a suspicious feline, but still she tensed her paws with nerves and slowly closed her eyes.

The cat did not like it.

There was a harsh hiss, and Christine didn't have to think about it, she just ran - with her eyes barely even open again, her paws found purchase on a shrub and her body went rocketing up and over the far wall, and she kept on sprinting down the alley she landed in, until she was absolutely sure the tabby wasn't following her.

It'd probably been the paws. Or maybe she still smelled like a human. Who knew? She kept trotting down the alley at a good clip, still half convinced that an angry bundle of claws and teeth would come looking for her. She glanced over her shoulder every few seconds, which was harder to do on all fours, until she came to the road on the other side, and with the sour scent of that angry cat still fresh in her mind, she just... didn’t stop. In her haste to get away, she forgot how much shorter her legs had become. And when a roar and a blinding light came from her left, she froze.

Dropping to the ground was the best she could do. The heady stink of the car's exhaust was consuming, fogging her brain, and the air rushing past her whiskers made her feel like she was in the middle of an earthquake. She was still flat on the road surface when it’d passed, and she could hear another car approaching, but staying put seemed like the only thing that made sense - maybe she could avoid disaster again, and catch her breath, and let her eyes and nose recover, and then she’d get her bearings and figure out where she was and go home -

A pair of hands closed around her middle and scooped her up in one quick motion, the suddenness of it making her yelp and her claws pop. But instead of shredding the fingers of whoever had grabbed her, she forced herself to go limp, and focus on her breathing. Somebody had saved her.

“Jeez, you need to be more careful!” Away from the cacophony of the road, positioned almost at eye level, that voice sounded familiar. Christine twisted in her rescuer’s grip, putting out her paws to press harmlessly against their forearms, and saw... Krish.

The first thing that went through Christine's mind was, he looked massive. Of course, she was in a much smaller body, so anybody would, but the effect was amplified a hundredfold by Krish's already impressive size. And of course, the fact that she was so close. His stomach bowed out below her and his thick arms surrounded her field of vision, his plump face with its soft lips and chubby cheeks and big, worried eyes hovering on the same level as hers. He was making an expression she’d never seen him even come close to before; those brown eyes wide in profound concern and flickering all over her, presumably looking for injuries. His breath was coming in quick bursts - it only then struck Christine properly that he’d run into the road on her behalf. He let her turn, checked down her back, turned her again, and made eye contact with her. And she didn’t break it. After a second, during which Christine was profoundly grateful she didn’t have a human face to make a dopey expression with, she let out a soft mewl.

“Hello to you too,” Krish muttered. His gaze lingered on her chest. The necklace. “Let’s see if we can find your owner.” He gently cradled her back half in one hand and held her chest with the other. It felt strange, and it brought home just how much bigger than her he really was. She wriggled a little bit, unnerved by the difference, wanting to just walk, but Krish’s hands stayed immovably in place. Scratching him didn’t seem like a good idea. And if she was being honest, the sensation of his soft upper arm and chest against her back wasn’t a feeling she wanted to go away. She focused on that. “There you go,” he murmured, crossing the road and picking up a discarded shopping bag on the other side. It hung from the crook of his arm so he could keep holding her the same way. “I’ll see about putting up some posters. I’ll do the posh areas first, I mean, look at you.” He stared down at her, his soft neck bunching up under his jaw. Christine’s tail swayed (as much as it could) with pleasure, determined to take that as a compliment. Even if it was directed at, as far as he knew, a cat.

Soon enough, they were back inside. Krish lived on the first floor, which as he quietly pointed out to Christine, saved him from the stairs. Her stomach got warm - with attraction, yes, obviously, but also with guilt. He probably wouldn’t be too happy knowing that he’d actually said that to his neighbour. Krish fumbled with his key for a few seconds, eventually wedging the door open with his foot and depositing his shopping on the floor.

“Come on. I don’t want you running off.” He finally let her down, when the door was closed with his back against it. “Phew.” Krish’s place was small, dimly lit, and noticeably cluttered. Books were a strong theme. Books and paper. Textbooks, primarily; vaguely organised into years, mixed in with copies of set texts and folders and stapled-together booklets and piled cascades of loose paper. The organised chaos was largely confined to bookcases, but it spilled in small ways onto the coffee table and the sofa and the media console. With Christine trailing behind him, Krish picked his way through to the next room, where things were a touch more organised. He had a desk set up next to a broad window that looked out to the patch of grass behind the building, the one that management generously referred to as a ‘garden’. Two large screens squatted on the surface, surrounded by neat piles of paper and heavily sticky-noted textbooks. An overflowing stationery tidy was illuminated by an underlit keyboard. A double bed with creased sheets and a lot of pillows was pushed up against the other wall. Perched precariously on top of a miniature set of plastic drawers, a figurine of King Ghidorah oversaw proceedings.

“You’ll probably have a better time if you stay in here with me,” Krish told her, shutting his bedroom door behind him. “Hang on. I have a class soon, so I can’t give you too much more attention…” he reached for the top of his wardrobe, displaying a gorgeous strip of stomach hanging over his waistband in the process, and brought down a box. It had once held a PS4. “Perfect. There you go, just for a few hours ‘til the proper shops open.” It was placed before Christine like an offering.
 

byutane

Grabby Hands Sr.
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He had to be kidding.

But, to show willingness, Christine sat in it and tried to look enriched. How was a cat supposed to play with a box, anyway?

It turned out not to matter. Mercifully distracted, Krish settled in with his back turned to her, arranging some snacks and shuffling notes around, leaning this way and that to find the sweet spot where his chair didn’t creak when he bounced his leg. Christine, for a good few minutes, was too mesmerised by him (thick, soft hands at the keyboard, squishy limbs and an adorable double chin and especially his oversized belly resting in his lap that she’d been actually, really touching shifting as he moved) to remember that unless she wanted to be locked not only out of her own place but into Krish’s come the morning, she needed to devise an escape plan. Instead she listened to his lesson - she quickly gathered, if the scholastic-warehouse atmosphere in his flat didn't make things obvious enough, that he was a remote English tutor, holding regular lessons with students in various time zones and occasionally with some who just had odd schedules.

After enjoying some analysis of chapter 12 of Wuthering Heights, mainly paying attention to the bites of chocolate he was taking in between questions, Christine decided it was time to get her Dufresne on. As quietly as she could, she jumped onto his bed to scrutinise the window, taking in his scent from the bedclothes in the process - not on purpose, obviously not on purpose, but she didn’t have much of a choice and he smelled like icing and rosemary and sleep - and was disappointed to see one of those push lever systems, no doubt far beyond the capabilities of her paw pads. At least she was on the first floor - maybe there’d be another window for her to take advantage of. The first obvious obstacle was the door… Christine tried to open it by herself, but doing so quietly proved impossible. Her claws against the wooden surface alerted Krish, who quickly pulled her away, muttering about losing his deposit if she got it scratched up.

The only remaining option, it seemed, was to wait.

And Christine, for her part, didn’t mind all that much. The night, she knew, was young, and Krish was a pleasant companion - when he wasn’t holding court with his students, especially during a long free patch between midnight and 2 in the morning, he was eating and relaxing and paying attention to Christine. He seemed surprised that she didn’t want to play like a normal cat - the best she could do was a single, awkward swipe at the length of string he dangled in front of her, and that was only after she realised what it was that he was trying to do - but he brushed it off with a comment about her being far too dignified, and gave her a gentle scratch behind the ears.

That was something, actually. He really talked to her, and that surprised Christine. This was so radically different from the Krish she usually saw, who categorically did not seem like the kind of guy to talk to animals. The grumpiness he always radiated like it was his job was nowhere to be seen, replaced by a soft voice and gentle fingers which she did her best (often failing) to avoid, because it was weird and he didn’t know she was actually a human and what would he think if he found out? But there was something in her feline nervous system that just, shut down when he found that particular spot on her head.

“There you go, I bet you’re plenty used to being spoiled. I could easily see you on a silk pillow with an old lady brushing your fur. Tom Jones is playing. Cocktail umbrella in your water bowl. The works.” Christine cocked her head to the side, and twitched one eye.

Yeah, right. It probably wouldn’t do any good to try and convince him that she was a human. In fact, if she wanted a chance with him after this, it’d almost certainly be for the best if he didn’t connect her with the weird white cat he found on the street. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t do something to supply a bit of conversation.

“I know, I know, you’re used to better. But hey, it’s an improvement on the middle of the road, right?” Another pat on the head. “Lucky thing I have cat superpowers. Usually they’re a little friendlier with me than you’re being, but I guess the etiquette rules are different for cat royalty.” Not friendly? She’d show him friendly. Christine insistently pushed her head against his palm as he started to take it away, bringing forth the very best purr she could muster. “Oh, hello. Heh.” He smiled at her, eyes crinkling, adorable dimples appearing in his cheeks. “Not so reserved after all.” Christine wished he would treat her like this normally.

Well, not exactly the same, obviously. She didn’t particularly enjoy being talked down to. But the stream of consciousness that came out of him while he was preoccupied was an entirely different story, one she wanted to properly respond to. Once his classes began in earnest again, whenever he was on mute he was firing off his thoughts at Christine;

“I know it’s my job to be patient, but - chaman chutiya I wish this kid would just, get his act together. I don’t want to kick him off the program, but I don’t see the point in keeping him if he’s only going to get more and more behind.” Then a few minutes later, “ugh, I sound like the worst kind of teacher, who knows what’s going on at home. I know I’m a sucker, Rosie, but I hate to boot someone unless I absolutely have to.” It took Christine a few uses to realise that by ‘Rosie’, he meant her. Presumably he’d identified the rock in her necklace.

“This is ridiculous. I don’t play Warcraft as much as I used to, and I get that it’s changed, but that’s because people change. You don’t blame the festival for sucking because you didn’t bring any mates.” Well... Christine didn’t follow absolutely everything he had to say. But it didn't matter, she was still caught up in the pleasure of being able to listen. However, the longer he spoke, the more a creeping anxiety came over her - the fear that he would start talking about something really personal. Something which, if she was around to listen to, would constitute a serious invasion of privacy. To an even worse degree than hanging out in his room and watching him eat.

“This guy thinks he can submit a couple hundred words and I’ll be happy? This is his suneung, they’re going to have him reading bloody scientific journals. He needs the kind of vocab you categorically do not get just from reading.” A furious bout of typing followed. “A lot of the time I get them to mark each other’s stuff. It forces them to look out for similar mistakes in their own work. Whoever gets this is gonna have to do some extra reading…” he often paused his monologue to eat a crisp or take a bite of chocolate, but Christine noticed that he did so slowly, making it last. Therefore, his proper meal probably wasn’t for a while, right? His shopping from earlier had been nothing but the same, endless Tyrrells and Galaxy and Mentos and Red Bull. It wasn’t really any of her business, but Christine felt a twinge of concern at the thought that he might be living on snack food and caffeine. It would certainly explain why he always seemed to be getting bigger, if he was endlessly grazing on junk, and obviously Christine didn't think he needed to go on a diet - but surely there were better ways to sate his appetite?

There came, during another class, a small trial. Krish rolled his chair over to her and scooped her up again, then set her down on his lap while a student was reading something out loud. He was stroking her back, and most of his lap was taken up by his stomach, which was gently rising and falling and being soft and flabby and elastic and radiating heat right next to her! One hand was gently holding her in place, and a lecherous part of her brain was telling her, he's keeping you held here, there's really nothing you can do… but Christine knew that wasn't true. Taking the opportunity, Christine peeked at his monitors and saw that it was approaching 3 in the morning. Time was getting tight. So she wriggled free and landed on the floor, deeply and immediately feeling the absence of Krish's warmth.

Back to her escape. Krish had left for brief intervals before, but he’d locked his PC with what looked like automatic muscle memory as soon as he got up (meaning a classic ‘order pizza’ distraction was off the table) and he’d been careful to secure Christine inside the bedroom. But she could tell that Krish was getting tired, and therefore moving slower. So when he got up again, voicing his intentions to get a drink, she weaved around him, scuttled through to living room and sprinted for the first open doorway she could see.

“Hey!” She heard a shout, followed by a thump, but didn’t stop running. This new room was the kitchen, which was mercifully neat; she was able to scrabble onto a chair, then the countertop, launching off a sturdy wooden spice rack and landing on the top of the fridge. And there, there was a small, rectangular window, which had been left open. Christine scrambled through and did her best to roll on impact with the grass outside, a landing which proved a lot harder than the one earlier that night. In the minute she spent feeling sorry for herself on the grass, she thought she could hear Krish enter and frantically start searching the kitchen.

She didn’t feel great about it. He seemed to have gotten fond of her. Now, who knew how he’d react to her escape - maybe he’d be fretting about her safety, convinced she’d gotten stuck under another car. But there wasn’t really much she could do about it, especially with sunrise hot on her soon-metaphorical tail. Christine found the fire escape, giving the road a wider berth than was strictly necessary, and climbed it as quickly as she possibly could. Her legs and back were aching, the falls compounding with her sudden sprints and leaving her sore and sleepy. She managed the jump through her window with a bit of scrabbling from her hindpaws, and from there settled on the sofa almost immediately.

Seeing another side to Krish had been nice, yes. But she wouldn’t be doing that again.
 

byutane

Grabby Hands Sr.
Supporting Member
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Apologies for the delay... life is rarely simple, huh ;p

Chapter 5

The sensation of being pressed against comforting flesh - someone warm, someone bulky - simply would not leave Christine's head.

It did nothing good for her focus.

A few days had passed since the incident with Krish and the car and the daring escape through the kitchen window. Christine spent them as she usually did, finding books for people and re-organising and filling out the background details of the postwar exhibition Gloria was planning. Interspersed with her continuing private research, of course. The routine was comforting, even with the nights spent on the sofa watching her tail flick from side to side. The thing was, she itched to see him again. But who? By night, she wanted Krish. During the day, she wanted Elias.

The temptation to blurt out what was happening had, unfortunately, grown. She and Elias texted relatively often, trading news from work and idle chat in their typical gossipy style. He used a lot of emojis. She'd even heard his voice a few times, mainly when he recorded some tipsy voice messages with Nikolas;

"I'm here with Nikolas, remember Christine? He was-"

"Hallo hübsches mädchen, was-"

"Sorry, he is drunk-"

"Komm zurück nach Deutschland, wir nehmen schon wintergewicht zu-"

"Wir sind nicht! Nein, ich übersetze nicht für dich! This horrible drunken man, don't listen to him Chris-"

It sounded stupid. So of course Christine wanted to be there. And she thought she had some idea what "wintergewicht" might mean.

She knew it didn't help that she wasn't making time for much outside of work. The extra research duties were eating up her evenings and she'd fallen into using her night-time energy boost for relaxation - watching TV, reading with the aid of a bookstand - which was, unfortunately, always solo. And that only made her crave Krish all the more. Come sundown, the memories filling her head morphed and changed their focus from Elias to Krish, becoming bigger and flabbier and taking on a gentler disposition. Krish was suddenly more present because she knew he literally was, and what's more, maybe he was even awaiting her return. The same absolutely could not be said for Elias.

Until finally a text from Susie promised some change. Fancy coming over for the game? Immediately there were calculations to be made. Susie lived about 45 minutes' walk away and by 'the game' she meant Tottenham vs Villa (allez, allez, allez). If they didn't go into extra time, and if Christine made something up about work so she could arrive early and leave early, it should be fine.

Less risky than going and bothering Krish again, regardless.

So Christine said yes, and organised things such that she would leave for Susie's just after her video call with Thomas. It was all happening on Friday… preparations for this video call had taken up a not insignificant chunk of her mental space, crammed in beside her persistent withdrawal fantasies. How on earth was she to communicate how important this was without giving herself away?

"Christine, hello!"

"Hi, professor."

“Please, Thomas is fine.” The older man gave her a thin smile. The professor - no, Thomas - was every bit the archetypal intellectual, an extremely slim, pale man in his early 50s with a large and pointed nose and a receding hairline. His hair was sandy-blonde and greying and just scruffy enough to say eccentric intelligentsia without being actively messy, and he had a tendency to wear baggy shirts and brown corduroys. “I’m really very impressed with what I hear from Gloria, the dedication you've shown is wonderful." His German accent was faint but perceptible. It made Christine feel… nostalgic.

"It's a very exciting find! Plus it's an opportunity to keep learning after the trip."

"Personally, I want to know what we can learn from this object." Thomas was an animated speaker, his whole upper body shifting and his hands waving as he explained the findings from the material study. It'd been confirmed that they were dealing with an authentic artifact. And Christine's era estimation looked quite accurate. "Considering its probable age, its preservation is truly remarkable. The details are very impressive too!"

"I think it's an offering," Christine blurted out. "That explains why it's so isolated, in an unusual place. Is there any evidence for a place of worship on the site?"

"Maybe," Thomas mumbled, clutching his chin in the most obvious gesture of consideration possible. "It wouldn't be out of line with the area."

"I really, really think this has some kind of significance in fortune telling. The link there, between the future, the cats, the obvious depiction of Freyja-"

"Well, we should hesitate to ever say something is obvious," Thomas interjected, and Christine knew where he was coming from, and of course, under normal circumstances she would agree with him, but-!

"I can't imagine any other connection. There's no other evidence for a wealthy individual having lived or having been buried nearby, the social position of the depicted figure is clear, the iconography is - there's no other way to say it - iconic."

"You're very insistent on this. But please remember, Christine, we can't rule anything out quite yet."

"Alright. But please consider my current theory." Thomas nodded.

"Of course, and it does make a lot of sense - I'm sorry, I really should have brought Reese along to this call."

"Reese?"

"Reese Arnell, he and I have worked together closely on some other digs. This is an exceptional case, so naturally I called him in. He's a great researcher. And luckily, he's got the time to look into this for us." Another researcher, and Christine's senior by... she could only imagine quite a significant margin. It didn't make a lot of sense - after all, she should be glad so much attention was being paid to her case - but she felt a little twist of disappointment. It felt like she was suddenly discovering that she wasn't necessary.

"I see." What would she do if she lost access? If she became unable to scrutinise, or get someone else to scrutinise for her, the artifact in question, it would be impossible to apply that kind of vital information to her own research. And on the most basic level, it'd occurred to Christine that touching the bangle one more time might be all that was necessary to break her curse, like turning a laptop off and on again. As long a shot as it was, she didn't want to lose the chance to give it a go.

"Hmm." Thomas's brow furrowed. "Christine, I apologise. I didn't mean to be dismissive. I can see you're heavily invested in this find, and I don't think your ideas are unreasonable in the slightest. I have no arguments against them, after all! We truly appreciate your continued involvement."

"We?"

"Myself, Reese and Gloria. Although Gloria is a bit too busy to be fully involved at the moment."

"Thank you. I appreciate that too…" Christine glanced back at her notes, a scribbled notebook page of leads on potential ceremonial practices. "I've been trying to understand the kind of ritual that might've been involved with the off- if this item was indeed an offering, the kind of treatment it would have received."

"Tell me something first, Christine, are you looking to get published?" She blinked.

"Hmm?"

"Are you writing something about the object? Is that why you're taking this kind of angle on it, like it's the protagonist in a story?"

"Am I?" Christine squirmed at the question. Of course the questions she was asking of the thing were, maybe a bit more narrative than they usually would be.

"It's not a bad thing. I was just wondering, since I have some experience with the area."

"Um…" a cover for her inevitably weird lines of questioning, presented on a silver platter with potato salad on the side. Christine froze. "Maybe. Maybe we should talk about that later, I… I don't know."

"Of course, whenever you like. I just thought I'd mention it." Thomas gave her an encouraging smile, visible even through the stuttering Zoom lag. Christine nodded and grinned nervously until she could return to her original topic - rituals, ceremonies, things that are just done because they've always been done that way; the bone and muscle of religion, and the most likely way she could think of to reach the goddess. Unfortunately, Thomas wasn't able to give her much in the way of specifics; after all, with such a decentralised set of religious practices and beliefs, who could possibly hazard an accurate guess at the specific events that occurred on that particular site?

Well, sacrifice. Certainly sacrifice. The bangle likely wouldn't have been presented by itself. While Thomas waxed on about the names of the different kinds of gatherings and whether or not they involved a market and what time of year they took place and other details he no doubt thought would be fascinating for Christine's fictional book, a strange image filled her mind. A festival filled with energy, noise and friction. Smiles and grimaces, the comfort and anticipation of repetition. The smell of bodies, fire and meat, mead. Then a goat, a knife, and a trickle of blood that ran down an angled stone and dribbled over the bangle, a few drops settling in the engraving's indent and growing darker and darker until the figure of the woman was bolder and realer than any shadow, and she turned her head-

"Christine? Are you alright?" Shit. He'd seen her slump over at her laptop like a disinterested schoolkid, and she hadn't even noticed - how hadn't she noticed? Christine shook herself and took a sip of the tea she'd prepared beforehand, cursing herself for taking the call on her bed. It wasn't as though she'd even felt sleepy!

"I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me."

"Are you overworking yourself? Please be careful." Thomas's face was creased with genuine concern, but Christine couldn't help feeling embarrassed. And rattled. Dreams hit a little different these days, after all. She hadn't even had one since… "Christine?"

"I'm sorry, pro- Thomas, I, um," think of something, "haven't been sleeping very much." That, at least, was true.

"Oh dear. Listen, why don't you take a rest, and I'll take what we've discussed today back to Reese. Next time, why don't we all have a talk together?" Christine nodded, despite the sense of a missed opportunity. Thomas didn't understand how urgent this thing was, but of course, how could he? At least she was to remain on the team. Maybe that was the best she could hope for. Especially if she was going to be falling asleep at inopportune moments.

"Alright. Thank you very much for your hard work, and for involving me in the team."
 
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