KETTLE-FIREThe gentle sunlight of the morning filtered through the open door, falling across Sage’s face as she blinked herself awake. Underneath the rough-spun blanket she stretched out until each muscle screamed and then relaxed.

Swinging her legs out from the frame she used as a bed, she padded bare foot across the grass. Outside of her hut it was damp with morning dew, which soaked her toes as she passed over to the tree where the kettle hung. Taking the layer of moss off the top, she peaked inside to see that it was three quarters full. Perfect.

She lifted the battered thing down, and took it back inside her hut, and placed it above the fire. Striking flint and tinder, the fire was soon providing light and warmth, pushing the slight chill of the spring air away as Sage waited for the kettle to start bubbling.

In the one good mug that she had left she crushed up some dried leaves, and then sat in the entrance to her hut, watching the sunlight creep across the clearing until the kettle bubbled over.

Taking it off the fire in quick, short movements, she wrapped a thick cloth around the handle, and poured the steaming liquid into the mug.

Swirling it around, she climbed back onto her bed, and leant against the wall, blanket wrapped around her legs again.

She had been content for a while now. But here, with a hot mug of tea, the sunlight streaming though with the promise of a new day of exploring, and the guarantee that here, in the middle of the labyrinth, there would be absolutely no other humans to disturb her, she felt a smile creeping across her mouth.

For once she wasn’t faking it. For once, she actually wanted to smile. It was hard to think the word, and she said it like it was almost forbidden, or rude to say it. But right here, right now, she was happy.

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