Vastra had a cat.
She adopted the thing long before she ever met Jenny – one of her first acts, upon re-entrance to the world, in her little rooms above the tea merchant’s by the docks. She found the skinny, mangey tom, its fur thick with matts and fleas, and began to feed it scraps until it came to her of its own accord. She named it Farnstrung – the name of a lizard she had kept as a child – and clipped its fur and gave it left over steak and pig’s blood. Farnstrung adored her.
He was less fond of Jenny, when she arrived, eyeing her with deep, haughty suspicion from his favourite spot on the back of the chez lounge in the drawing room. He would not let her near him, hissed and scratched if she tried to stroke (or, god forbid, groom) him and would not eat a scrap of food put down for him by her.
So when the dratted creature died, Jenny could not say that she was especially sorry. But it devastated Vastra – brought her as close to tears as a Silurian can get, and left her quiet and woebegone for days.
Cradling his cooling, stiffening body to her chest, she stroked and rocked him.
“He was my only friend,” she told Jenny, sounding very small and lonely. “The only creature who would come near me.”
“I am your friend now,” Jenny replied, sitting next to her and squeezing her arm. “You’re not on your own anymore.”
“I know, my dear, I know.”
She continued to rock Farnstrung’s body, though, for a long time after.
Jenny found her a new cat – a kitten, born to a cat of one of the neighbouring houses – who was better tempered and far prettier than Farnstrung. Vastra was at first reluctant, but was too tempted by how warm the thing was (Vastra prized heat more highly than she did anything, perhaps even Jenny’s company), and consented to at least hold it a little while.
“Give it a test run,” Jenny suggested, cheerfully, “you hold it just now and I’ll make us some tea and if you don’t want him by the time we finish the tea, he can go back.”
The kitten was in the a peculiar habit, however, of clambering onto the shoulder of whatever companion it came into contact with, and curling up at their neck – and as soon as it took up this particular perch with Vastra, the Silurian was mollified.
She named it Barnacle, and let it lap pig’s blood from her glass as Jenny rolled her eyes, secretly relieved to see her mistress smile again.