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“I still think of him when I look at the stars.”

Hilda finished pouring the tea, breathing in the fragrant steam. “I know.” She placed the cups on a small tray along with a small plate of cookies. “You probably always will.”

“Do you mind?”

“I could never mind you still loving him.” She set the tray on the coffee table and crossed to where Francoise was looking out the window at the clear winter night. Hilda wrapped her arms tight around Francoise’s waist and snuggled her chin down onto the younger woman’s shoulder. “Joe will always be a part of you, just as Albert will always be a part of me. I never expect that to change.”

It was close to what Hilda had said that night on the beach, holding Francoise as she fell apart. Her wailing sobs were something Hilda’d never had time for, between her kidnapping and conversion and just trying to survive in the future world she’d found herself in, but the grief… she knew the grief.

Francoise wouldn’t have to be alone with it.

And now, years later, she kissed Francoise’s cheek and made a promise to the men who’d gone ahead that together, they would be fine.

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