Chapter Fifty-Three

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Aidan had never stayed in one place so long as this. Half a year passed for them in the hut by the sea with Eve. They had grown to appreciate the simplicity of it all, and her company, which though not Riona, was a welcome change from a life of wandering solitude. They had named the goats together, something they knew Riona would find ridiculous. Despite the time that had come and gone, Aidan found that most thoughts wandered back to her still.

Today, they were both bent over the small garden, pulling weeds and harvesting summer vegetables. Aidan was standing by a crude scarecrow they had erected. It would keep away the birds, but they had yet to devise a way to stop the rabbits from raiding the patch. Eve straightened up, brushing her mousy brown hair away from her face with a hand that smeared mud across her cheek. Aidan reached out to wipe it away, but Eve froze. Aidan turned to look in the direction she was gaping. Out of the wood came two familiar figures.

"Ibrahim!" Aidan dropped the spade in their hand. "Orfeo!" They sped to their friends, landing in Ibrahim's outstretched arms.

"So here you are, my friend," said Ibrahim. Aidan could feel the rumble of their voice against their cheek. "We have been looking for you far and wide."

Aidan pulled back from the embrace, giving Orfeo a nod.

"Never thought to look here," said Orfeo, craning their neck to glance around Aidan at the farm. "Found a new human already?"

Aidan blushed furiously. "It isn't like that," they snapped.

Orfeo chuckled.

"Why have you come?" Aidan asked, afraid to voice the question.

Ibrahim sighed deeply. "We have heard news from Hy-Brasil—"

Before Ibrahim could even finish, questions began pouring from Aidan's lips, "Is Riona there? Is she alright? What has happened—"

"Peace, Aidan," Orfeo growled, "Riona is fine."

"Then—"

"She is with child, Aidan." Ibrahim's dark eyes searched their face as the words hit them with full force.

Aidan took a step back. "What?" they could feel their cheeks grow pale.

"We thought you would want to know, seeing as it's yours," Orfeo said with a twirl of their finger.

Eve approached the group. "Aidan?" Aidan turned, and Eve looked worried at the expression she found on their face."What's going on?"

"Eve, it's Riona, she's-she's," they struggled to come to grips with the words themself, "she's pregnant."

Eve's eyes widened to the size of a full moon.

"And the babe, is it yours?" the words rushed from her lips. Aidan nodded, and without another word, the woman ran into the house, returning quickly with a pack filled with supplies, "Go!" she commanded.

Aidan took the bundle of provisions, blinking in surprise.

"Look, I know you think she's lost to you, but you're a fighter, Aidan, I've seen it, go get her back."

Aidan's jaw hung slack in surprise.

"Don't look at me like that, g'one with you!"

Aidan's eyes welled with tears, and they took Eve's freckled cheeks in their hands and kissed her full on the mouth.

"Thank you," they said, pressing their forehead to hers tenderly.

Eve wrapped her large arms around them and squeezed. "Get out of here."

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