[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]
The sound of a lilting tune drifted from one end of the tents, half lost under the sound of the rain pounding against the canvas. Lin was half asleep in my arms, lulled toward his morning nap by a clean diaper and a full belly. I followed the sound, canting my head to one side even as my brow furrowed.
It’s familiar, but I can’t quite place it.
I came around a set of shelves and saw her sitting cross-legged on a spare dresser, a sketchbook open in her lap and a tin of colored pencils open alongside her. Hecate was humming softly to herself, bundled in a hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans, her hair pulled into a thick braid down her back. Even with her back turned, I could tell she was smiling and that made me smile, too.
The humming stopped as I took another few steps and she turned around, looking over her shoulder at me. One corner of her mouth lifted up in a wider smile.
“Morning,” she echoed. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah,” I said, moving to join her in her perch. She scooted over a little to make room, watching me with an arched brow.
I nodded. “Yeah, I just thought you were still in bed, that’s all. You weren’t at breakfast.”
“Well, I’ll admit that I thought about staying in bed,” she said as I settled next to her. “The rain would’ve made that easy. The drum and the gloom and damp and all that—it was tempting. Then I decided I’d been hiding in bed for long enough and I should get up.”
“You weren’t hiding,” I said, brow furrowing slightly. “You were recovering from the last attack. You still are.”
“Oh, Mar,” she sighed, tucking her pencil above her ear and reaching to brush a fingertip down Lin’s face as his attention turned to her, blue eyes half-lidded as he half-heartedly fought sleep. “I’ve been physically fine for at least three days. Trust me, I’ve been hiding. It’s easier sometimes.”
I shifted Lin slightly to free an arm to wrap around her shoulders. “Well, you do whatever you need to do,” I told her. “No one’s going to get upset at you for that.”
Hecate took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, nodding slightly. “It’s just hard, that’s all. I’m still getting used to not being alone and learning to trust people again. My first instinct sometimes is to just hide because hiding keeps me from getting hurt—at least most of the time.”
I squeezed her gently and she smiled.
“You don’t have to say it,” she said. “I know what you’re about to tell me.”
“You mean the part where I say that we’re here?”
“Yeah,” she said, smiling. “That.” She smoothed a hand over the page in her sketchbook, leaning her head against my shoulder. “I told Matt that sometimes I’ll need reminding.”
“I’m sure he’s more than willing to do that,” I murmured, resting my head against hers as I peered down at the drawing on the page. “That’s a good picture of him.”
Hecate held it up so we could both see it better, her brow furrowing slightly. “I don’t know. It’s missing something.”
“Color?” I suggested.
She laughed and shook her head a little. “No, not that. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ll figure it out. Eventually.”
“Has that been what you’ve been out here doing?”
“Mostly,” she said. “It’s another thing the rain somehow makes easier.”
I squeezed her gently, staring out at the rain. She sighed and set the sketchbook down in her lap again, gaze drifting out to the sodden ground and the trees.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked in a whisper.
Her shoulders rose and fell in a shrug. “Probably. It feels like it’s been a long time since I was sure of something like that. But probably.” Hecate slid an arm around my waist and smiled faintly, though the expression was fleeting. “And if I’m not, you guys are here. That’s all that matters now.”