[This post is from Hecate’s point of view.]
“Are you all right?” Matt whispered into her hair, almost too quiet to hear. For a second, Hecate squeezed her eyes shut, hoping that the others wouldn’t notice her momentary distraction. She didn’t say anything, just reached up and wrapped one of her hands around his, squeezing tightly.
Seamus was watching her, she saw as she opened her eyes. The barest flicker of a smile curved his lips and then was gone, an unspoken message—understanding.
Love can be a torment, but it also keeps us alive.
“If you beat him because he’d driven himself half mad, how do we beat him this time?” Hecate asked softly. “I don’t imagine we can rely on that this time and it doesn’t sound like brute force will do it, either.”
“I don’t suppose he’s stupid,” Thom murmured, glancing around. “It’d be nice if he was.”
“It would be,” Seamus admitted. “But he’s not.”
“Damn,” Thom said, though he didn’t sound all that disappointed—more resigned, as if that was the response he’d more or less expected. “Well. I guess we’ll have to figure something out.”
Hecate stared off into nothing. She could smell the faint scent of brimstone, mingling with the smell of fresh bread and jam, could hear Persephone’s soft voice, though the words were indistinct. Her fingers tightened around Matt’s hand. His arms were Cíar’s in a stolen moment, the scent of woodsmoke filling her nose, mingling with the scent of rain and the sea. It was only half a dream.
He was here and so was she. That, at least, was real.
“Is he mentioned in any of the books, Marin?” she asked softly. “Did you notice?”
Marin frowned. “I don’t remember. Tala?”
Tala shrugged. “I don’t remember, either, to be honest. There might have been, but there’s a lot of books and if we weren’t looking for it? Who knows. Maybe Jac’ll remember.”
“Maybe.” Hecate chewed her lip. She doubted there would be anything, not about this one. He seemed the sort that everyone would have wanted forgotten—and she would not have put it past Pluton to ensure that he had been.
No help there, then.
She exhaled and stood slowly. “I’m going to take a walk.”
“I’ll come with you,” Matt said, standing with her.
Hecate shook her head. “No, stay here. Maybe you guys will come up with something. I just need to clear my head.”
Maybe if I can, I’ll come up with something myself.
He stroked her cheek, then kissed her lightly. “As long as you’re sure.”
She nodded. “I am. I won’t be long.”
“Be careful,” Marin said quietly.
Hecate smiled. “Always.”
She turned and started walking.