Rolf bounded ahead of Aidan as they went through the forest. His friend had gone to check things out for his uncle, and Rolf, of course, wanted to make sure his friend was safe as he did so. After all, Aidan had kept Rolf safe; Rolf would keep Aidan safe.
Not safe from everything, Rolf knew he couldn't do that, but safe for now, while in the woods. He'd watch over Aidan when his guardian couldn't, for one reason or the other. Sometimes adults couldn't save children from everything. His parents hadn't been able to save him from Oberon, after all. Kings took what they wanted, regardless of how the parents felt. There was a story once, he was sure he'd heard, of a king taking an infant away as revenge and the infant's older brother taking revenge in turn, killing the king and saving his younger brother. It was a human fairy tale, he was sure.
And Andrew, Aidan's guardian, had that look on his face that there was something that he wanted to save Aidan from, but was sure he couldn't. Not life-threatening, not like Oberon, but something unpleasant, something that was going to hurt Aidan and was hurting himself.
Aidan must have sensed it, and Rolf had encouraged the trip, because in a way this struggle was Andrew's and Andrew's alone.
"Thanks for coming with me," Aidan said, sitting down. Rolf bounded around him, but finally sat down himself.
"We're friends," Rolf said. "Are you all right?"
Picking up a stick, Aidan said, "I'm getting used to things. I wish that I could watch telly. He has a computer, why can't he get that?" Aidan asked. "I suppose it's okay here, now, with Oberon gone."
Rolf wished Aidan would throw the stick, but he didn't. He just drew in the dirt with it, randomly. Or at least he wasn't using any magic that Rolf could detect. "I like this place. Groil does too." Groil was nice; Rolf liked spending time around him.
"Do you ever want to go home, Rolf?" Aidan asked idly.
He didn't want to cause Aidan pain. Pain was a part of life, yes. But he didn't want to hurt Aidan. "Not really," he said thoughtfully. "I'd rather be here with you! You feed me and I like everybody. Mum and dad, they protected me the best they could, but this is my family now." He knew that humans saw family relationships differently, but sometimes the family you chose was as important as the family you were born into.
"I miss Gran," Aidan said unexpectedly.
Rolf moved closer. He knew something of Aidan's grandmother. There wasn't much that he could do about that, except cuddle close to him as any friend should. Aidan leaned into him.
"Andrew is great and all...." his friend trailed up, absentmindedly burying a hand in Rolf's fur. "But he's not Gran. Not that I expect him to be, of course...." He shook his head. Rolf could tell his friend was trying not to cry, a sole sniffle escaping him. "Sorry, Rolf."
"Nothing to be sorry about." As far as Rolf was concerned, if Aidan needed to cry into his fur... he could have a bath later if he needed to. "Friends do what they need to do." Yes, sometimes friends hurt each other - out of ignorance, mostly - but if they were good friends, they made up. And Aidan hadn't done anything that had hurt him more than a little.
He just hoped that Aidan understood that.
It looked like Aidan did, for he cried into Rolf's fur, and Rolf let him, letting him know without words that he was always welcome to do that. After a while, Aidan stopped crying, but held onto Rolf like he was afraid that Rolf would disappear too.
"Thanks, Rolf." Aidan said, and Rolf snuffled a little, just to let Aidan know that if Aidan was happy, he was happy.
The two friends sat together for a while, Aidan holding onto Rolf, and even if it didn't last forever, they had that moment. And after all, that's all that mattered.