Again, this was becaming a semi-regular occurrence: some nights, Tove appeared at the side of Grey’s bed, night-swift with awkward shrugs and averted eyes; other nights, Persis just appeared in Grey’s bed in the night, sleep-soft and cuddling like the tiny kitten she was; some nights, Ione, who was always accompanied by Persis, taptaptaptap-ed on Grey’s door with few words but always a gentle kiss on Grey’s check.
And, yet, they all somehow missed each other.
(Grey would have swore that they all had come up with some sort of custody agreement to fairly and equitably share Grey’s company, but that was just too weird for Grey to think about.)
Through it all, that Oh keep resounding in the back of Grey’s mind as they continued to be uncertain about what it all actually meant.
Maybe Grey would never know.
Could Grey be okay with that?
Grey wasn’t certain. Uncertainty wasn’t something that Grey had been built for—the Court of Miracles didn’t really encourage the ability for uncertainty; they encouraged faith, and faith, although not actually certainty, had the same ability as certainty to make one feel secure and right and righteous—but it was still something that had always haunted the edges of Grey’s life, the ticking of if, if, if, if, if—
Now, oh counter-pointed if in the perpetuity of the tick-tock-fairytale-clock.
Maybe Grey just needed to ease into uncertainty, make it their friend, take comfort in the secrets that it could share.
Grey could handle this.
And, then Grey couldn’t handle it.
Okay, that’s not true, but the weight of uncertainty was a strange burden to bear when one wasn’t used to it, so Grey was becoming more like Atlas with every passing day so that, yeah, Grey could do the thing.
On a night where Persis and Ione had shown up already sleep-rumpled—as if they were co-sleeping even when they weren’t with Grey, which was totally a good thing for them; there was no reason that they shouldn’t have the comfort of each other at all times if that were their decision—Grey crawled quietly from beneath their covers and ushered their sleepy kitten and lizard into a cuddling ball back into Grey’s bed, crawled back in, and fell back asleep.
Then—Grey wasn’t asleep.
And, Grey was coming awake all at once with the certainty that someone else was in their room that wasn’t in their bed.
Grey recognized that presence, that breathing, that little thud of hoof.
Tove was perched on the edge of the mattress. Grey could feel her warm weight against Grey’s hip.
“Tove?” Grey whispered, turning their head to see Tove’s weirdly amused and concerned face. “Why are you just sitting there? Get in.” Grey tried to untangle themself enough to lift the rather weighty blankets—Grey finding that they had to add extra blankets because Ione just sucked the heat out of everything, the little cold-blooded darling—invitingly for Tove.
Tove chuckled weirdly, quietly. “Are you sure that there’s enough room?”
That weirdness was jealousy. Tove was jealous of Ione and Persis.
Tove was jealous of Grey.
There was almost an audible click in Grey’s head as this information slotted into place with all the other bits of information, speeding up the tick-tock-fairytale-clock of Grey’s uncertainty.
Certainty was coming closer all the time, the drums getting louder with every moment.
It was going to be a hell of a revelation when Grey had that epiphany.
Grey hoped their head didn’t explode when it happened.
Grey smiled up at Tove’s soft-shadowed face and patted the bed next to them. “Just get in here, you giant dork.”
Tove slipped under the covers, holding herself apart like she had that first night, which—seriously—Grey wasn’t having that at this point.
Plus, there just wasn’t enough room in the bed for that kind of martyr-y shenanigans.
Grey placed their arm around Tove’s hip and kinda drug her closer (at the very least, so that Tove’s cute little fawn-tail wasn’t hanging outside of the covers getting cold), wrapping themself around Tove in a way that had definitely never been an option on any of their interactions up until now, and Tove—well, Tove stiffened, and for one hugely sucking moment, Grey had the certainty of faith that they had done the Wrong Thing—had misread the situation, had misread Tove, had misread everything that they had become—and Grey began to retreat from Tove’s space—
But, with a suddenness that was actually startling for Grey, Tove returned that full-body embrace and kind of hiccup-sighed into Grey’s feather-hair.
“Hey, hey, hey,” Grey whispered into Tove’s chest, trying for comfort while still not understanding why Tove was so upset but still understanding that something was wrong. “Tell me what’s going on in that beautiful head of yours.”
Again, that distressing sound.
“Tove thought you’d replaced her,” Persis said, voice sleepy and sweet and muffled by Ione’s arm. “She was scared, Grey.”
Grey did their best to look up at Tove’s eyes and could see the fear that they’d missed before.
“But I hadn’t?” Grey whispered; now actually feeling all the weight of all of this, all of their confusion that they’d just been allowing to simmer as they thought and pondered and sussed.
The thoughts were done yet.
Grey didn’t think that they had much of a choice in whether or not they were ready. The situation was here and now and waiting.
“Of course, you hadn’t,” Grey heard Persis snuggle harder into Ione. “But, Tove didn’t know that.” Despite Grey not being able to see Persis, Grey could tell that she was looking Tove in the eyes now. “But, you understand now that Grey hadn’t replaced you, correct?”
Grey felt Tove nod against the top of Grey’s head.
Grey held onto Tove harder.
“I’ve a proposition,” Ione hissed, eyes still closed. “How about we all talk about this in the morning now that we all know that Tove is more than welcome in Grey’s bed?”
Really, that was the most words Grey had ever hear Ione speak in one sentence, and Grey couldn’t find fault in them. “Yeah.” A whispered assent.
Grey felt Persis slide off of Ione’s stomach as Ione shifted sideways so that Persis could kiss the top of Tove’s head and Grey’s, and as Persis settled back down, Grey felt Ione’s ridiculously long arm lay across Grey’s hip to tangle her fingers with Tove’s.