Heliotrope paused for a moment considering, while Scald appeared like he was following the conversation in his normal if loaded silence. The young Sonnerstein probably knew more about such workings than he let on. Finally Helio responded with another question, “Did you not recall that you were already bound?”
Arnold glowered at him, “I had just found out I was a familiar about a week before that.”
Heliotrope stared at him for a moment, and then glanced at his ears and scanned Arnold up and down, “I suppose a rebellious, adventurous streak is only natural…”
“What I want to know is why Maddox isn’t able to supercede their deal,” Arnold asked while under the horses scrutiny. “Or is that another thing she could do if she knew how?”
“She’s waiting for proof that he is truly alive so she can kill him.” Arnold would have spit out his beverage if he had been drinking something, but it came out a half giggle. “And to break a deal? It completely depends on the nature of the binding. Most of these things come down to ‘honor’.”
“I have no idea,” the cat had to admit, and not for the first time he wondered if the compulsion he felt was not magical in nature at all. “If it’s all in my head, I’ll scream.”
“Scream anyway. It would be healthy for you to rage a bit…” Professor Lionheart suggested and Scald nodded.
Arnold paused for a short time, and then he let out a roar that he lost control of as his frustration took over. The professor blinked in surprise as shivers ran down his spine at the supernatural caterwaul, and Scald giggled until he made that little huffy sound that he usually did.
“Now we’re talking!” Heliotrope cried out.
Arnold had to admit that he did feel much better. There was a little discussion about Heliotrope’s status as a psycologist before the horse surprised the cat with a new subject. “You know that I love Maddox. I have no idea if you approve of it or not these days.”
“I do,” Arnold admitted. “I had more trouble thinking of her as Dr. Lionheart at first, but it’s easier now.
Heliotrope continued awkwardly, “And you are… an extension of her, a part of her.”
Arnold frowned, “Uhh…yes.” They shared an uncomfortable silence for a few more moments until Arnold asked, “…are we married too?”
“Of course we aren’t married.” Heliotrope paused for a few moments and then said, “Well, an argument could be made… no.”
“Okay, I didn’t think so…” Arnold said, but maybe a little too quickly because Professor Lionheart didn’t appear to appreciate his brevity of the situation and scowled.
“…I love you, Arnold.” He puffed his pipe and clomped away. Scald blinked, tilting his head. Arnold had not been prepared for that…he took a moment to sigh deeply.
After he finished he followed after Helio, who had stopped not that far away. The cat looked up at Helio, not quite sure what to say. “I didn’t mean to make you upset.”
“You didn’t. I’m not very good at this. These sorts of… feelings aren’t my strong suit.”
“Mine either,” Arnold confessed, though he was sure everyone who knew him was well aware of that. “I don’t really get…’love’. Platonic or otherwise.”
Scald had followed them and started to scribble on his slate, while professor Lionheart stared down at the crouching cat. “I don’t know what you are to me. Not a child or a brother or a husband or even a brother in law.”
“Can we start with ‘familiar in law’ and figure it out from there?” Arnold knew that sounded like a stretch, even for him.
“Something in you is her, something in her is you,” Lionheart said, and then stopped to listen to the bells toll.
Arnold shook his head, this was too much for him, he had never been close to someone before besides family, and his relationship to Maddox had been as a friend and protector.
Scald finished writing and held it up for Arnold to see, just as the clock struck midnight and Valentines day began, ‘You clearly understand devotion, that’s a start.’
Arnold had to shrug and turn back to the professor, “I’ve been learning to accept that you’ll be a part of my life, for the rest of my life. I think I’ve done that.”
Helio nodded slowly, “Anyway, nothing is implied, or required, reciprocable or otherwise. It simply is, and is no more and no less than itself.”
Arnold felt awkward, and he didn’t like the feeling at all. Would it always be like this until he and Heliotrope sorted this out? He asked Helio if they could spend some time together in the near future and the horse agreed…before his expression darkened.
“You’re hurting her. She doesn’t even realize how deeply yet. Your voyage into independence.”
The cat tilted his head, “My voyage into what?”
“I am not jesting here, Arnold. If you don’t do something about it soon, I will make you regret every second you ever knew me. Am I crystal clear?”
“Yes,” Arnold replied simply. “But I’m not joking either. What do you mean my voyage into independence?”
“You’ve forgotten. Your existence is for her, working with her. Not this old crone and her wayward progeny. You blunder yourself into promises to others and disregard the one who truly depends on you.”
Arnold blinked as what Heliotrope had been trying to tell him weeks ago finally made sense to him, “If you had said it like that the last time we sat down we wouldn’t be having this discussion now. I honestly had no clue what you were trying to say.”
Heliotrope shrugged, “I was hoping you would feel it on your own.”
“I had noticed that my time was being temporarily sapped,” He hadn’t realized that it had gotten this bad though. “I’m also aware that if she had desperately needed me whose side I’d have been at.”
“That’s the thing; neither of you knows how this is affecting the other.” The half-demon paused for a moment and then looked around. “We will talk soon, Arnold, alone, you and I.” Scald blushed a deeper shade of green and began to scribble on his slate.
“I have a decission to make it seems,” Arnold began. “Then again, I already know and so do you, how I’ll decide. She comes first, and if I’ve been doing wrong by her, I have to fix that.
Scald held up his slate, ‘I can leave if you like’
“No, not right now, Scald.” Heliotrope said resolutely. “And if you need, Arnold, I’ll be more than pleased to talk to your new “friends” myself. Arrange it if you would.”
Arnold grinned slightly as Helio departed, and he went on his way.