[This post is from Matt’s point of view.]
They found a bench to sit on near the far end of the path, surrounded by trees and the old rubble from the fallen dormitories. Matt wrapped his arm around her shoulders and they stared out into the trees surrounding the ravine, listening to the sounds of the birds in the trees and the activity behind them. The Hunt was training on the far side of the rubble, some of them sparring, others practicing archery. The song of bowstrings and the ring of steel on steel echoed softly, muted by distance and debris but still audible.
The sound was oddly comforting.
“It all feels very long ago and far away,” Hecate said softly. “And at the same time, it feels very close.”
“What does?” he murmured, cheek against her hair. It smelled faintly of lavender.
“The past,” she said, resting her hand on his knee.
His free hand covered hers, squeezing gently. “Is that bad?”
“No. Not really.” She sighed softly. “Remembering the good parts is comforting. Just—still trying not to think about the bad.”
Matt pressed a kiss to her temple and then squeezed her a little closer. “I know there was a lot of bad,” he said quietly.
“It doesn’t balance,” she admitted. “But the good—it was enough to get me through the worst times. I’m still here, right?”
He nodded, throat momentarily too tight to speak. She pulled back slightly, studying him for a few seconds, brow furrowing.
“It’s okay,” she said. “I’m okay.” She paused. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” he said after a few seconds of hesitation. “Yeah, I’m okay. I just—for a second I was worried, that’s all.”
Hecate stared at him for a few seconds, then grinned, leaned in, and kissed him.
“I love you,” she whispered against his lips. “Never forget it.”
“Never,” he promised, wrapping both arms around her for a few seconds. “I swear it.”