[This post is from Hecate’s point of view.]
Hecate slipped out into the hall a few minutes later, dressed for the day in cargo shorts, a loose shirt, and sneakers. She was empty-handed, though she’d likely try to stop by the fire for at least a cup of something warm on her way to check on Neve. Her heart felt a little lighter, lighter than it had in a long while.
She had a purpose. There was a reason for her to be here. Knowing that felt good—very, very good.
It was quiet by the fire, but there was still a pot of tea settled on the stones surrounding it even if no one else was there. Hecate stopped, crouching to pick up the kettle and pour herself a mug of tea before heading onward, looping back in the direction she’d come. Cameron and Neve had a room at the far end of the hall from where she at Matt were—theirs was closer to the center than Neve and Cameron’s.
There was a spring in her step and she was surprised to find herself humming as she drew up to the door. A blush stole across her cheeks despite herself. How was it that she was so damned happy?
Matt. These people, starting to feel like I belong somewhere again, like I’ve got a family again, like these people are actually going to protect me instead of using me for their own ends.
She took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly before she rapped on the door.
“Should be open,” Neve’s voice called softly, almost too quiet for her to hear. Hecate smiled a little and opened the door slowly, starting with a crack she could peek through. She smiled at the sight of Cameron fast asleep with baby Anne in his arms, leaning against Neve, who was nursing Artorius.
“Just checking on you,” Hecate said softly as she slipped inside. “Cameron’s finally asleep, huh?”
“It only took all night, I guess.” Neve smiled crookedly, glancing down at him. “What about you? You slept, right?”
“Better than I have in a long time,” Hecate admitted, closing the door behind her and making her way over toward the bed. “For good reason, I think.”
“Thank you for being here,” Neve said softly, reaching to take Hecate’s hand. She squeezed the other woman’s fingers, and Hecate found herself surprised by the gratitude she saw in Neve’s gaze. She blushed and looked down.
“I was just doing what needed to be done.”
“You didn’t have to come and help me,” Neve said. “But you did anyway because I asked and that means a lot. Thank you. Thank you so much.”
Hecate squeezed her hand back. “Thank you for asking for me. That meant a lot to me, too.”
“Maybe we’re almost even, then,” Neve said, then grinned.
Hecate laughed. “Maybe. I guess we’ll figure it out.”
Neve nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, we will.”