[This post is from Thom’s point of view.]
Thom had started to doze again after word came of the scouts’ return. Leaning back against one of the log benches, he’d closed his eyes, Marin and Lin nestled against his chest. His booted feet were almost uncomfortably warm—almost—due to their proximity to the stones bordering the fire pit, but the feeling of warmth bled through the soles and up into the rest of him, lending comfort rather than its alternative. His eyelids had been heavy, almost gritty, and he succumbed to sleep readily despite everything.
Perhaps it had been because of everything.
It was the sound of footsteps that roused him, and he cracked an eye open to see Cameron and Thordin arriving, both of them probably louder than either had intended. He studied each of them for a few seconds, then yawned and shifted slightly. Fresh pains made themselves known and he winced, trying to get comfortable again. Marin—who apparently had similarly fallen asleep—stirred as well, lifting her head from where it rested against his collarbone.
“Are the others coming?” she asked quietly.
Thordin nodded. “I thought you were making coffee.”
“Matt was going to,” she said, sitting up. As she did, Thom carefully straightened himself as well, leaning rather than slumping against the bench. “He said he forgot something, though, and he’d be back. Guess he’s still looking.”
Thom scrubbed a hand over his eyes. “Or he’s distracted.”
“Another strong possibility,” Marin admitted. She carefully handed the still-sleeping Lin over to Thom before rolling to her feet. “I’m sure he won’t be long.”
Cameron dropped down onto one of the benches, watching as Marin started the process of making a pot of coffee—the first of what was likely to be several, Thom thought. “Probably right,” Cameron murmured.
“We can hope,” Thom said quietly, cradling his son. The words tasted sour, but felt right.
He had a bad feeling that he hoped against hope was nothing.