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a gentle nervousness

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Here’s the thing. Flint is stupid about a lot of things. Knowing when to keep his mouth shut. Knowing when to leave something well enough alone when Silver is in one of his moods. Knowing why it is that Madi won’t just wear the damn socks he knits for her.

(He knows all of these things, really he does. He knows he should shut his mouth and can’t. Knows what things Silver does not like to talk about and still tries to wrap him up in the hammock out back and soothe them out of him. Knows that he knits the lumpiest, ugliest socks because they’re the one thing he can’t get the hang of and Madi always accepts them with a smile and then quietly, secretly unwinds them and makes pot holders out of them.)

But this? He knows this for certain.

He can almost smell it on Silver, this particular type of yearning. This particular type of fearful hope.

Madi has a bit of extra curve clinging to the line of her waist and Silver can’t take his eyes off of that little bump whenever she’s near, but Madi hasn’t yet gone to have it confirmed.

She knows, though. Flint knows that she knows. He also knows that she’s nervous and Silver is nervous and for fuck’s sake, he’s nervous.

Babies are terrifying things, this much he remembers. He might have been an only child, but he was the oldest child in that row of narrow houses his grandfather lived in and he was often stuck minding the little ones when parents were out working.

Oh, they were easy enough to take care of. They just wanted to be fed and to be held, all children want that. He often took a nap when the rest of the children napped and that was a fine thing.

But to be responsible for one as a parent? To raise a child to be a good, decent person who knew how to take care of themselves? That, Flint has no idea how to do. He’d been a nightmare of a teenager and he’s not sure how his grandfather hadn’t just tossed him over the side of a fishing boat. No, child-rearing is one of the few things Flint knows nothing about.

And he’s not sure Silver does either. Not if his hovering over Madi and nervous fluttering around their little house is anything to go by. Silver runs the front of their little inn, which makes enough revenue to cover what they’re really doing, but spends most of his time out back in the garden lovingly tending and talking to plants. Madi and Flint leave him be most of the time because he tells the plants what he does not tell anyone else, and a lot of the time uses it to complain about certain things. It’s why the tomatoes are wilting he tells Silver. Too much gossip will make plants tired.

Today, however, is the day Madi has gone to the midwife and had forbidden Silver and Flint from coming with her, even though they both wanted to.

“I don’t want any disappointment in case…” she’d said, motioning to her middle. “It may very well be that I’ve simply eaten too many tarts because of the stress lately.”

They both give her a disbelieving look, but she’d patiently let Silver bundle her up against the crisp, autumn air before she’d hurried out the door.

“She’s pregnant,” Silver says, shaking his head. “I do the laundry for christ’s sake! It’s not like I don't know some things.”

“She’s away from her mother,” Flint says. “She’d ask her if she were here, but she can’t do that. I imagine it’s causing her a bit more stress about the whole thing than if she weren’t.”

Silver’s hands fidget nervously, plucking at the the thin band around his left ring finger.

“I have no idea where her mother is right now. I don’t know where she goes when she travels, or I’d write her and tell her to come home.”

“That’s not your fault,” Flint says, tugging Silver closer, letting him lean against him. “And if you keep pacing like that you’ll irritate your leg.”

Silver stomps his new wooden leg against the floor in petulance, which makes Flint grin.

“You’d be a wonderful father,” Flint says, leaning their foreheads together. “Perhaps a bit of an overbearing one, but a good one.”

“You don’t have the slightest clue about being a parent, you’re not helping,” Silver complains and Flint huffs.

“No, I don’t. But I know enough to know that you already love that baby, you can’t hide that from me. You’ve always been bad about hiding that.”

“Obviously not since you had no idea I was in love with you.”

“Yes I did, it was you that didn’t know.”

“Oh fuck off old man, go find something to do so I can have a breakdown in peace.”

Flint laughs again and nudges him towards the back patio.

“Go on out and tell the cabbage. They’ll be very pleased to know that soon they’ll have a second chattering human to gossip with them.” 

“Very funny,” Silver says, making his way outside. 

Flint watches through the window as he goes out and flops over in the grass next to the petunias and Flint shakes his head. He’ll have a fit over the mud on his jacket later, but he’s sure Silver doesn’t care about anything right now but when Madi will return.

Flint goes to turn the sign on the tavern door to closed, leaving a note for the people who have rooms in the inn, a building connected to their house and tavern, to let them know that the kitchen will still be open and to ask the staff about dinner.

Then he grabs a book and settles down at the table by the hearth to wait, knowing that these sorts of things always take the best sort of time.