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Two Years Later

The sun shone high across the sky as I made my way to Willow and Matteo's house. I passed by many smiling people who waved at me and I returned the gesture with the same expression across my own face.

It was a nice day out and one of the hotter days that we had had for a while. Many of the older people in our small community were out gathering berries and roots while the younger were out by the pond, swimming under the springtime heat.

"Is that you, Zoe?" Willow spoke out from the kitchen of her house.

I closed the door behind myself. "Yeah, it's me."

I rounded the corner onto the kitchen where I saw her holding one of her dented metal bowls. She smiled widely at my presence once she saw me and then she held the bowl out for me.

"May you take the stems off of the rest of the strawberries while I cut the ones over here?"

I took the bowl from her and walked over to the counter to where she was cutting strawberries and then stared at the huge bulge that was her stomach.

"Are you sure you should be up and doing this?" I asked. "I'm pretty sure you could leave all of this for Matteo to deal with."

Willow shrugged as she took another strawberry and cut it up into slices before throwing it into another bowl that was about a quarter of the way full of the red fruit.

"Connor isn't feeling too well so Teo's taking today's shift for him."

"Oh." I frowned as I thought of Connor. His leg was probably acting up again.

"Yeah," Willow nodded her head before smiling slightly, "Besides, Teo doesn't like anything to do with cooking. He'd rather gather the food than prepare it."

I chuckled as I tossed her another strawberry. "I see where he's coming from. This really isn't all that fun." I laughed along with her until my eyes found their way back to her stomach and I raised an eyebrow. "You two have a name for it yet?"

Willow shook her head. "Nothing yet."

"Huh," I looked back down at the strawberry in my hand. "Well, if you need any help, I've got plenty of name ideas."

She rolled her eyes. "If you suggest Willteo or Matlow again, I will throw this strawberry at you."

I laughed loudly, and was about to open my mouth to tell her that I actually had a decent name when a loud crash broke us from our conversation. The noise was coming from the floor above us and sounded as though someone were throwing the furniture around the place in search of something.

Willow and I both glanced at each other before both deciding to check out what was causing the noise. I took the knife from Willow's hand and made my way out of the kitchen toward the staircase. I hoped silently that it was another animal problem like we had before, but my hopes slowly melted away as the sound came to a sudden halt right as my foot made contact with the bottom step of the staircase.

My whole body then froze as a chill suddenly floated down the stairs and hit me like a punch to the face. My body shivered from the sudden temperature and I immediately turned around to warn Willow that we had to get out when I stopped in my tracks and my mouth fell open.

Willow's face had gone completely slack and she was looking down at her stomach where the tip of a blade was emerging out of her flesh. She looked back up at me and I watched as a tear trailed down her face just as the sword jerked out of her and she fell to the ground, staining the stone underneath her a dark red.

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