[This post is from Hecate’s point of view.]
Carolyn smiled weakly and squeezed her hand. “How can you be so sure, though? What if something happens to all of us?”
“There is nothing that is going to be able to wipe out all of us all at once,” Hecate said. “Besides, do you really think that we wouldn’t find some way to make sure that any of our children were protected and cared for, even if something came at us hard?”
“No. No, I don’t think that.” She shook her head. “No matter how stubborn we all are, someone would make sure they’re with them. Those kids would never be alone.” She sighed, then let out a little laugh. “God. It’d be me. I’d be with them. Even if one of them was mine or not, it’d be me until they’re old enough to take care of themselves if something happened to us.”
“I’m sure you wouldn’t be the only one,” Hecate said softly, squeezing her hand. “None of us are ever alone in anything here.”
Carolyn smiled crookedly. “Someday, that’s going to be a problem.”
“Probably,” Hecate agreed, grinning. “But not just yet.”
Carolyn nodded, squeezing her hand again before letting go. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Hecate smiled at her and went back to clearing overgrowth. Carolyn did the same, and the two worked in companionable silence for a little while. The sound of birdsong lifted Hecate’s spirits slightly, carrying her to a time long ago and far away, to thick forests and the sound of waves crashing against a shore. She could smell the woodsmoke in her memory, feel damp earth and grass between her fingers as she knelt near the edge of a forest, smelling the salt of the sea on the wind.
It was one of those memories that had faded from her thoughts, half-buried because it was wonderful and painful all at once, precious because he had been in it, but painful for the same reason.