It was the earliest hours of the morning, but Ambrosine was awake, and standing in the kitchen making hot chocolate.

She had, in fact, barely slept at all. Normally she was fine, as long as Jaffar was home but…the fresh horrors were too much. One answer was to get stupid drunk until she passed out, a method she had used (perhaps excessively) in the past but there were guests in the house, and it was unwise.

Speaking of her guests, Ambrosine cocked her head and listened. The farmhouse was never entirely quiet–it creaked and the wind whistled. But no, that distinctly sounded like muffled sobbing.

Ambrosine made a second cup of hot chocolate and padded softly through the house until she found Mina, curled up in a window seat and sniffling. 

“Hiding from your husband to be sad alone?” Ambrosine held out the steaming mug as she sat next to the druid.

“You have no room to talk.” Mina sat up and took the mug with both hands, sniffling. “And he has spent so much time comforting me already. Everyone has.”

“You have lost almost everything. You will not stop being sad anytime soon.” Ambrosine held out her arm and Mina practically darted into the hug, resting her head on Ambrosine’s broad shoulder.

“You…right. You know. I am sorry, I had forgotten.”

Ambrosine swallowed. “Yes and no. I mean–at least humanity had other strongholds. But if you mean I understand what it is to lose your home, and the capital city you knew well and thought would always be there, and to be forced to start over anew with almost nothing? Then…yes, I understand.” Her memories of Stratholm were bright and fuzzy, a child’s recollection. But she felt the old twist and ache regardless. “But you have your family, yes?”

Mina winced. “Jander and Jamethera and Unaara and–yes, we are all fine. But I have not heard from my mother. Not that she would know where to send word.”

“I think the healers are keeping lists of people looking for their families. I’ll add yours, and we’ll see if we can find her.”

Just when Ambrosine thought she had Mina somewhat settled, the quiet sobbing started anew. “I just realized…the little…the little…they will not know!”

It took Ambrosine some time to coax something half coherent out of her, but she finally realized that what Mina was upset about was the loss of all the things her child would now never know. Hard to share childhood haunts of you own when they were horde occupied or burned to the ground.

There was no balm for that except time. Ambrosine sipped her cooling hot chocolate and stroked Mina’s back until she was settled again.

“Finish your drink before it goes cold, hmm? Then we’ll get you back in bed before Jander notices. Even if you can’t sleep, close your eyes. It helps.”

“Only if you do so, also.” Mina jabbed a finger at her.

Ambrosine sighed. “Very well.”

Author Ambrosine
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