[This post is from Hecate’s point of view.]
She walked across the cracked concrete beyond the bridge, past the archway sculpture that somehow still stood, if a little off-kilter, in the center of what used to be a plaza at the heart of the old campus. The manicured lawns and carefully tended trees had gone to wild in the last year since the end of everything, since the day exactly one year ago when everything had changed. Hecate hugged her sweatshirt a little closer and sighed.
Everything changed. It was a mark of the passage of time, and time was something she’d seen—and forgotten—in abundance.
There were still a few buildings there that she remembered from the couple of classes she’d picked up there decades ago, long before her husband or his sister had come to this place to pursue their own studies—studies that for them would have had far more significance going forward than anything she’d ever done here.
Sometimes she wondered how much the interiors had changed, but even now—especially now—it didn’t matter. All that mattered was what they built going forward—and how they would defend it.
Her hand strayed to her belly again. She wasn’t sure exactly when it had happened, but eventually they’d figure it out—likely not until the child was born, if even then—but even that didn’t matter.
Nothing will ever harm you, little one, she thought, her lips thinning. I swear on my life.
She could hear the sound of humming as she came closer to the top of the small hill where several half-standing buildings clustered. The sound came from the tatters of a garden bounded by hedgerows outside of one of them, standing above the hill down to the barrow where they’d buried their dead. Hecate’s brows knit.
Her steps carried her toward the archway into the garden, marking a gap in half-wild hedgerows. Hecate blinked when she saw Carolyn kneeling amidst tangles of rosebushes and a dozen other flowers, her hands full of dirt, humming as she slowly brought some order to the chaos. Her breath caught.
“Oh,” Hecate sighed. Carolyn turned, looking up at her. She smiled.
“Do you want to help?”
Hecate nodded slowly, moving deeper into the garden. A faint shimmer of power washed over her and then faded. She paused, looking around. Carolyn watched her, sitting back against her heels.
“Yeah,” Hecate said, moving to join her. “What are you doing out here?”
“Gardening,” Carolyn said with a crooked smile. “Thinking. What about you?”
“I was—I going to go to the barrow to think.”
Carolyn nodded. “It seems like that kind of day.”
“Yeah,” Hecate said softly. “It does.” She knelt down in the damp grass across the flowerbed from Carolyn. “What do you need me to do?”
“Well, you can start by clearing back some of the grass from the plants over there.”
Hecate nodded, rolling up her sleeves and setting to work.