[Ficlet] Just a moment (Iorveth/Roche)
And another little minific, this time for @justleaf ! Hope things will get better after this weekend and Happy Birthday! =D
Iorveth/Roche, 1.2k, no particular warnings, soft old retirees at some point in the future; Iorveth brings home a cat
Iorveth finds her huddled behind a stack of crates, staring miserably into the pouring rain. The cat’s brown fur is matted and clumped together with dirt in places, one ear partially torn off and the gaze from its green eyes speaks of wariness more than anything else. Iorveth looks down at her, notes how thin she is, nothing but ribs and fur on her already tiny body. She doesn’t quite have the air of a feral cat – more that of a neglected pet, perhaps tossed out after its owner died. Either way, she looks utterly miserable.
He sighs, looking around. Unlike most dh’oine, he doesn’t mind the rain aside from the way it causes his leg to ache, well used to it from his days in the forest; besides, home is nearby, and he’ll be able to dry off in front of the fire soon. His bad leg means that he can’t really hunker down anymore, but he shifts the pack of supplies on his back, removing a piece of cured meet and a small bit of cheese from it, before swapping his crutch to lie under his other shoulder so he can at least bend down and hold out the treats towards her.
The cat looks at him, then at the treats in his hand. Iorveth makes a soft noise, hoping she’ll come closer – he won’t be able to hold this position forever, his hips already beginning to ache. After what seems like an eternity, the cat finally moves forwards, tail twitching and ears flattened.
“Come on,” Iorveth murmurs, putting the meat down and holding up the cheese next to it. “Just a little closer.”
He reaches out to grab her the same moment that she lunges for the meat. The next few seconds are a struggle as Iorveth frantically tries to keep hold of a very unhappy cat without losing his own balance and getting his remaining eye scratched out, but she finally seems to calm a little once he has her in a firm grip and she realises he isn’t hurting her. The fact that there are still some cheese crumbs caught between his fingers certainly doesn’t hurt matters either. Iorveth leans against the wall and juggles all his belongings for a moment before he manages to drop her into his pack, well away from all the food.
“We’ll be home soon, then I can clean you up a little and make you something proper to eat,” he murmurs before closing the pack and making his way back to the little house at the edge of the village that he is now living in.
Roche is exhausted when he finally returns home. He was gone much longer than he thought, the dinner at Ves’ having overrun in time without giving him the ability to make a polite escape. He opens the door to his home carefully, trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to wake Iorveth. It’s rare enough still that he gets a good night’s sleep, and Roche doesn’t want to disturb him if today is one of those lucky nights.
There are no sounds from inside when Roche steps through the door, careful to avoid the floorboards that creak the loudest. There is the sound of soft breathing from the living room, close to where the fire has burned down to embers. Iorveth must have been waiting for him to come home, unwilling to go to bed alone. His clothes are hung up to dry next to it, a small puddle on the wooden floorboards underneath that’s now mostly dry. Roche creeps closer with a smile on his face at Iorveth’s relaxed expression. He has foregone his eyepatch entirely, his hair a wild halo around his head, and is evidently deeply asleep in the rocking chair that he had spent so much time making fun of Roche for before trying it out himself. His legs are propped up on the stool in front of him, one arm dangling off to his side, the other on his chest, curled around some sort of fuzzy ball.
Roche frowns. He steps closer, still as quietly as possible. The fuzzy ball moves, a green eye blinking open to watch him approach. Roche doesn’t know how to react, especially once the cat raises its head completely, instantly wary of him. It keeps staring as it sits up, tension building in every line of its body and Roche isn’t sure whether he should approach or back off. Thankfully, the decision is taken from him when Iorveth stirs, probably roused from his sleep by the feeling of two paws digging into his chest.
“Hwa-“ Iorveth blinks, looks down at the cat and then over to Roche in the dim light of the room. Roche realises belatedly that he’s still carrying the lamp he used to find his way back home outside with.
“Ah. Vernon. Welcome back.” Iorveth stretches very carefully, like a rather oversized version of the cat that had been sleeping on him. He looks at the darkness outside, and then at the fire that has burned down to mere embers, and frowns. “You’re late.”
“Apologies. I tried to leave earlier, but you know how it is.” Roche finally decides to approach. The cat still seems wary but calms down when Iorveth puts a hand on its back. “How on the Continent did a cat end up in our home?”
“Found her earlier, when I came back from the market,” Iorveth explains. He shifts to sit upright again and grimaces when the movement jostles his leg. Roche can only imagine how much it must hurt, what with the damp and sleeping in the chair rather than in their bed. “Couldn’t just leave her there.”
“Well.” Roche smiles ruefully. He isn’t sure whether he wants to share their house with a cat, but the way she presses herself against Iorveth’s chest and his protectiveness towards her is endearing to say the least. “Yes, that would’ve been cruel, I suppose. But she stays out of our bed.”
Iorveth rolls his eyes at him in fake annoyance. He tries to heave himself up from his seat but falls back with a muted sound bitten off in the back of his throat. The cat looks up at him and then back to Roche when he approaches.
“Can I?” he asks. Iorveth just nods, running his fingers over the cat’s back, leaning back into the chair with a sigh. Roche gets some of the hot stones they always keep in the fire for this exact purpose, wraps them up and hands them to Iorveth, who puts them on his aching leg with a pleased little sigh. Pulling a chair close, Roche sits down next to him and puts his hand on Iorveth’s hips where he knows his muscles must have cramped overnight, trying to massage at least some of the pain away, hoping that it will help distract him. Iorveth leans into his touch and smiles. His fingers grasp Roche’s hand after a moment, the other still petting the cat that has curled up on his chest again.
“We should move to bed,” Roche finally says. “It’ll be more comfortable.”
Iorveth nods, fingers drawing patterns into the cat’s fur.
“In a moment.” For now, they are both content simply sitting there, the silence of the night draping itself over them like a comfortable blanket. Roche leans forward, placing his head on top of Iorveth’s heart. The cat glares at him for a moment before shifting, he back pressing into Roche’s shoulder. Iorveth cards his fingers through Roche’s hair, and he closes his eyes, listening to the steady rhythm of the reassuringly strong heartbeat inside his lover’s chest. Yes, they can stay like this for a while longer. Just a moment…