As usual, I don't own the characters or the setting or…anything really. All typos and spelling mistakes are completely my own fault.
I went mushy (again) and this is what resulted. Its kind of…well, you'll see. Weird. And this is it. This one little scene. There is no more, so don't ask. (You wont, but I thought I'd make it clear.) I also think Ichabod is OC but, hey, he's half asleep. All right? Now…Enjoy.
The quiet chiming of the clock startled her a little, seeming to break the spell of stillness and silence that had encompassed her. Her mind slowly awakened to her surroundings as she drew her eyes away from the sheets of numbers on the desk before her to the window. The moon was bright and the stars clear, but clouds were moving in quickly, eager to add a fresh sprinkling to the preexisting blanket of snow.
With a stretch she felt should be audible, she rolled her shoulders back and straightened her spine. Exhaustion settled in to her bones and muscles once again, along with a new sense of the cold in the room.
She turned in her seat, catching sight as she did of the melted down candles and the orange glow of the spent embers of the fire. The faint warm light spilled onto the worn wood floor and familiar furniture in a small ring, and though it left more shadows than it dispelled it called to her like a beacon with the promise of comfort. A home she knew.
Her dark eyes came to rest on the deep shadowed armchair by the fireside. The pale, ink stained hand resting on the arm was the only sign that it's cushions sheltered anything other than soft velveteen shadows.
Was he asleep? She didn't know when she'd last heard his pen scratching away or when it had stopped. Minuets or hours, she had been unaware of their passing. His ledger lay nearby, set aside for a moment of contemplation but abandoned in favor of rest.
She found herself kneeling at his feet, twining her smudged hands with the equally blackened hand that lay in his lap. His fingers were cool and relaxed, providing outward symbol to the contrast within.
Long and thin, apparent frailty to the point of transparency. But there was strength in those hands, made all the more strange because you would never look for it. Her constable who would shrink from a beaten man but fish a body from a river. Who would perform the most precise of autopsies yet shy from the drop of blood a paper cut could produce. Who feared the memories that lurked in the Hollow, but would not let her return without him. Ichabod who promised to sit up through the long lonely night with her as she settled at last the final business arrangements of her late father.
She looked up now, into his face, to see that he looked back at her with half lidded eyes and slow little smile. If she had not known his face so well she would not have seen it, but it was a true smile, born of happiness and tempered by weariness. His eyes were dark and warm, reminding her that she was chilled. Almost of their own volition her knees unbent beneath her and she rose to her feet, half stumbling.
Still without fully abandoning sleep his hands steadied her and drew her into his embrace. She sank into his lap with a sigh, allowing his warmth and comfort to surround her in familiar security.
These are always the best times, she thought as the tightness began to slip out of her. Both of us finding comfort in the other, neither of us awake enough to worry about tomorrow or the next day.
With his arms circling loosely around her waist and her hair splayed across his shoulder, she couldn't help but think about how she'd gotten there. How had the little girl who played Pickety Witch and been set to marry Brom become the woman dozing off in the arms of the man she loved in the home she had grown up in?
It was all the horseman's fault really. No, it was her stepmother's fault. Her fault Katrina was an orphan; her fault the VanGarret line was extinct, that the Killian's were dead, that Masbeth was without family, that Ichabod had become her husband instead of Brom…
She choked back a dry sob. Without the Hessian, were would she be right now? Asleep upstairs with Brom, secretly unhappy and publicly sheltered. Brom had been everything she thought she should want: strong, brave, protective, certainly not a pauper nor an ogre…but not quite or gentle or intelligent enough to capture her heart. No horseman, no Ichabod, it was as simple as that.
As for the rest of the Hollow, she knew the people would recover. However close she may have been to the VanGarret's, she was not blind to their cruelties. Their deaths were tragic but could bring nothing but improvements in the lives of their tenants. The Killian's had died together. There would be no wife bewailing a husband lost, nor a husband mourning wife now buried, not even a child left wondering, hoping, that maybe today, if he could only be good enough…maybe, just maybe his mother would come back for him…
They were together. Thomas was forever spared the pains Ichabod still suffered. Masbeth, named Jonathan though he was wary of telling people, would have a better life in the Crane house than he ever could in the coach house.
She looked again out the window, watching as the snow began to fall. There were so many other deaths, so much blood she couldn't rationalize or excuse…She smiled sadly. Ichabod was wearing off on her. Her chain of reasoning was incomplete and it bothered her now just as it had bothered him that day in the burnt out skeleton of her first home.
But memories of dead fathers and sad days were not the sort she wished to keep company with this night or any other. What good are memories, if they return to torture you in the night? she wondered. She was shocked at herself for thinking it and saddened to find that this was yet another influence of her dear, silent constable.
She tilted her head back into his shoulder to look into his face. Tonight he slept dreamlessly, and, should she get her wish, he would do so every night. Perhaps she was wearing off on him as well.
"Then I am now twice the man…" The memory was an odd one to come upon her just then. If he was twice the man, was she now half the woman? Maybe she was. She wasn't sure she would know how to live without him now. Was that being half?
But she decided it was more than that. He had come there broken and fractured and she was slowly soothing the hurt and patching the holes. He was twice what he had been.
Yet she was half. Even as she mended him she had broken, watched as the life she knew had been severed like a neck under the horseman's blade. And so she was half being made new again by Ichabod even as she remade him.
But half a soul sounded so tragic and dysfunctional. As though they loved each other only in the interest of self-preservation. She had helped him before she had needed help herself, just as he had helped her when it would have been easier to leave. He had not needed to keep her book nor trust her enough to open it and find what he had. No, people broken into bits, using the other as glue was not the way to describe it. She may be half, but she loved Ichabod because he was himself and in that she was complete.
She laid a soft kiss on his cheekbone before nestling her head deeper into his shoulder. Even as her eyes fought to close themselves, she felt him wake up a little.
He pulled her in a little closer to his chest and one of his hands found its way under her hair to rest reassuringly against the back of her neck. Cool without being cold. Cool hands, warm heart as her mother had said so often.
Half asleep he rubbed her sore neck, easing tension she hadn't known she'd felt until he melted it away. He too had spent many a long night bent over a desk and his aches sparred her hers. "Katrina, are you alright?" He queried, his voice sounding different, soaked as it was in tired concern. Or maybe because she heard it roll through his chest. She liked it.
She knew he was waiting for her answer to determine whether he should open his eyes or close them. It was rare that he found himself waking in the night after a dreamless sleep and he couldn't help but think that something was wrong, if not with him than with her.
"Mmm." She breathed with a smile, reassuring him as sleep overtook her at last, closing her eyes and stilling her thoughts. Eyes closed, she felt him retrieve his coat from where it hung shadow-like over the corner of the chair and drape it over her. A feather light touch brushed fine, stray hairs from her face as a small kiss was placed on her forehead.
"Goodnight, Katrina." He whispered, sliding his arm back around her waist and resting his head on hers before sleep claimed him as well.
The snow drifted against the house, peering in through the window as it fell. The candles flickered and burnt themselves but the embers continued their steady warming glow, keeping watch over the sleeping pair. Their two heads resting together as they slept contentedly while their hair, dark and light, intermingled.
Neither noticed the next chiming of the clock for neither clock nor Hessian could break the spell between the two sleeping minds and loving hearts. Two halves of an imperfect whole.