John shivered in the damp. It was July, but had been raining so long that the heat of any Summer sun was long forgotten. Every tree in the grey mist of the morning looked like the looming head of some giant figure, hauling itself across the landscape on its belly. The birdsong cut sideways through the glum, a cheery reminder of a season that should be happening. Was maybe happening elsewhere.

He wanted to stop, just curl up under a hedgerow together for warmth. He muttered. He moaned. He pointed out appropriately-sized nooks. I dragged him by his hand, told him we were expected, told him how warm we could be, and peaceful together in my ancestral halls. The words were round and filled my mouth. Each a precious egg, hatching tattered hope.

Did we know where we were going, that dismal morning? I had an address, but no sense of a place. I had never visited, knew nothing of who, if anybody, lived there. Perhaps if I had known anything I would have kept the invite to myself, let John live and die in that small room. Crabbed and miserable as such a life would have been, at least it would have been ours.

The blear of morning had lifted by the time we reached the gap in the hedge that would give us our first sight of the house. John reached out to grasp my hand and, trembling even in the midday warm, we looked upon our new home.

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