to be free

The snow was gone. They were free of the snow and it was a wonderful sensation. It had melted all within a couple of days though they had been days of surprising heat and Yael briefly worried that this would be a hint of the summer they would be facing. If the heat was settling in now, it would be hellish during the summer.

There wasn’t much he could do about it so he tried to let it be. Instead, he focused on clearing out what was left of old leaves and dirt that had accumulated in the catio. There had been snow in it for most of the winter, not much of it but enough that the cats had mostly refused to step outside except on a few rare occasions, Areli and Lavi always leading that particular ball.

Astra still climbed up and down places on her own, that ‘fluke’ hadn’t been a fluke at all and Quentin still repeated, now and again, that she had been taken by aliens and replaced. Yael couldn’t complain, they had slowly worked through their set up steps to try to see how the cats handled being up in his garden and it had worked out beautifully. Now he left the door open whenever he was up there, he was joined now and again by one cat, two, three or even seven. When he was done, he shook the tin of treats he kept by the door and they all came running. He counted them out and closed the door.

It was once he was down on the ground floor that he gave them treats, since the tin he kept by the door no longer had treats to it, it had been filled with bits and pieces that sounded like treats when he shook it, it did the job.

Quentin was looking over their yards, taking note of where they might need to make sure the ground hadn’t soaked in too much wetness and would cave in, in some ways, when they walked over it. It had happened the year before, one particular area had soaked in so much of the water from the melting snow that when they had stepped there, he had sunk in nearly to his knees, it had required Alexis’s help to get him out of it. They’d fenced it off until they could find a solution.

As he looked the yard over, he noticed something by the little flag Yael had set out, the marker he had placed for that one tree he’d tried so hard to get growing but hadn’t managed.

“Yael, come out here for a second.” He called out. Yael looked up from the cat tree he was slightly straightening and stepped back inside so he could take the proper door to head outside. He walked up to Quentin, standing by his side before he looked to where that finger was pointing.

He walked over and there, as though it was waiting for him, a little sprout. The tree had broken free of its seed and out of the wet soil. It wasn’t tall but oh it was there and it was wonderful. Yael knelt down next to it, not daring to touch it just yet, not wanting to chance it. He marvelled at it for a long moment. “I’d completely forgotten about this!”

Excitement filled him as he stretched back to his feet and ran back to Quentin. His eyes were bright and filled with happiness. Quentin laughed, hugging Yael as the slightly younger demon pressed up against his side. “Oh it’s growing, it’s going to be perfect where it’s at, I’m just going to let it keep going.”

It was the best of options as far as he was concerned, it really was.

He looked back a moment and laughed. “It is a day for rediscovering freedom, here comes the gang.”

Quentin looked back, chuckling as the cats began to file out into the catio, as if they’d never been there before. They went to the edges, sniffed about, climbed up the cat trees, wandered along the platforms as if they were discovering it all over again.

“At first, you know, I was afraid they’d never use the catio at all. It took forever to entice them to head out there.”

“True, Areli and Lavi taught them how to, though. These two love being outside this way. I’m sure we’ll have wet cat tracks everywhere in the house for a little while.” Yael snickered, still settled closely against Quentin’s side. This day was turning out to be absolutely beautiful, despite that it was grey and cloud-covered. He didn’t care. His tree was growing, the snow was gone and the cats were enjoying the fresh air. He couldn’t have asked for anything else.

“We should probably close some of the windows.” Quentin murmured from his spot on the couch where he had been reading. In the distance, thunder rumbled and the sky was now loaded with dark storm clouds.

Yael looked up from the bit of sculpting he’d been doing. Just a little thing he had set out on their low table as he sat on the floor, small bits and pieces of this and that scattered everywhere near him. “I guess we should. I wish there was an automated system for this kind of thing, you know? The windows open when it’s a certain temperature outside, they close under a certain temperature, they open depending on the humidity and close when it’s too humid and when it’s raining.”

“That’d be one way to live but I think that would take out the joy we get from making sure all of the windows are closed.” He snickered as he put a bookmark to his page and closed his book. He eyed Yael a moment, those fingers covered in what looked like sculpting clay. He shook his head and went about their home, closing the windows he knew had been opened. There weren’t that many yet. It would take him more time in the summer, he knew.

As he returned, he found his seat taken by Areli. He picked up the cat, set him down on the other couch cushion and sat down, picking his book up again. “At least, we know that if any of the plants had been in need of watering, they’ll have plenty more.”

“I’m sure the plants didn’t need much water, with all that snow that’s now done melting, they had all they needed. A little more won’t hurt. We can’t exactly control rain as it is.”

“Well, not unless your name is Mira and I don’t know that he can control the rain as it falls. I imagine he could but that’s just one of those things.”

“What do you think?” Yael held up a small sculpture, a little man with white feathered wings at his back. Quentin frowned at it as his mind tried to tell him something he wasn’t sure he understood.

“It’s lovely, who is it meant to represent?”

“Eoghan.”

“Eoghan?”

“I don’t know why, at times when I dream about him, he comes to me looking like this, with beautifully white feathered wings. I just don’t understand it. They fit him though, like he’s meant to have them. What if they’re his mark? I mean you have your tail and I’d love to see it, by the way, I have, I don’t know what I have. I think the twins mentioned having horns and so does Alexis. Eoghan has never mentioned what his mark is, it could be those. My dreams haven’t often led me wrong.”

He shrugged as Quentin studied the little man a bit more closely. The features did resemble Eoghan’s own, the wings were surprisingly detailed. They could have fit. Eoghan never really had mentioned what his mark was meant to be or what it was at all. It was surprising enough. He knew that those who were born in their family, those who knew about their gifts from birth, usually were aware of their gifts.

He had been taken from his parents had birth, he’d discovered his gift and his mark through an accident. Yael had spent his life in an orphanage and Quentin knew that they still weren’t even sure as to what his gift really was so it was natural that they didn’t know exactly what his mark might be just the same. It didn’t change much in his life, really.

“It’s beautiful, Yael. You have no idea how jealous I am of your talent on most days.”

“Thank you.”

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