Twenty-one – 01

[This post is from Hecate’s point of view.]

“Did you feel it, too?”

Hecate swallowed, feeling sick. She pressed her back against the cool wall of the hollow they hid in, Lin cradled against her chest. The infant’s fingers clutched at her shirt, though he didn’t seem upset or fussy otherwise.

“Hecate?” Neve edged closer to her, her brow furrowing in concern. Hecate sucked in a breath, not realizing she’d been holding hers, and looked up.

“I did,” she said quietly. “I felt it. It’s—it’s unsettling.”

“I don’t hear anything up there anymore,” Neve said. “Someone will come to give us the all-clear soon. That’s how it works.” She glanced toward the two baskets where the twins slept and toward Angie, who sat with a book open against her knees and a lantern next to her. Hecate followed her gaze, caught the gleam of the girl’s eyes before she looked down again, pretending to read—or perhaps actually doing it.

“You felt it, too, didn’t you?” Hecate whispered, her gaze still on Angie.

The girl nodded. “Someone was trying to hurt the wards,” she said quietly. “I could feel that. Maybe she was trying to hurt Miss Marin, too. I don’t know. I couldn’t tell. Mister Phelan’s been teaching me to read the wards, though, so I pay attention to them. Maybe I shouldn’t when bad people are coming to hurt us.”

“Oh. Oh, Angie.” Neve squeezed Hecate’s shoulder before she moved toward Angie. Hecate managed not to wince at the contact, trying to concentrate on what Angie was saying and the feeling of the baby in her arms.

Marin trusts me to keep him safe.

That meant something.

“I’m okay,” the girl said as Neve hugged her, though she reached up to scrub some tears from her face. “I’m okay, Miss Neve. They stopped—no one’s trying to hurt them anymore, or Miss Marin. It’s okay. But the storm sounds a little scary.”

“I’m sure it’ll be okay,” Neve said, her voice steady.

Hecate envied the other woman a little. Somehow the reassurance came so easily—or so it seemed. Perhaps Neve was just as accomplished of a liar as she was.

Hecate closed her eyes, bowing her head. She could feel the storm in the marrow of her bones, and other things, too. The wound in her side ached and pulsed, worse than it had that morning. Idly, she wondered if it had something to do with all the moving she’d been doing, or if it was something else, something more insidious.

“How do you know?” Angie asked.

“Because I’m really old,” Neve said, a faint tremor of laughter in her voice. “When you get to be really old you know things like that.”

“Oh.” There was doubt in Angie’s voice.

Hecate opened her eyes and leaned her head back against the wall. The lamplight turned Neve and Angie into ghosts limned in gold. For a second, her breath caught, her heart missing a beat, then she settled again, forcing herself to relax.

Maybe she’s right. Maybe it will be okay.

Powers above and below, I hope she is. I hope she is.

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