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The fire had died down almost to the very last ember. The night was cold, and he shivered beneath his blankets.

Above him, the night sky was clear and dark. There was no moon, but the stars glittered like a million diamonds scattered across a field of black velvet.

It was beautiful, but so empty.

A sigh came from beyond the smoky remains of the fire. He lifted himself up onto one elbow and looked across.

“Hey,” he whispered. “Are you… are you awake?”

He kicked himself mentally. Stupid question. If she wasn’t, she wasn’t going to answer.

“Sorry,” she said, sitting up. “I couldn’t sleep. It’s too cold.”

He got to his feet quickly. Too quickly; now he looked over eager. Too late to worry about that now, though.

“Here,” he said, “Take my blankets. I’ll fetch some more wood and build up the fire.”

She smiled at him gratefully as he draped his blankets around her shoulders. A smile. It wasn’t going to warm his fingers, but it warmed his heart.

They had left a pile of wood stacked at the edge of the clearing, set aside to make sure that they had a fire to cook on in the morning. He would just have to fetch more at first light. He carried an armful of branches back to the centre of the camp, piling it on carefully and leaning in to breathe life into the flames.

She looked up at him, the dancing flames reflected in her dark eyes. He stood awkwardly, trying to think of what to say.

She was the first to breach the silence.

“If you sit close to me, we could share the blankets.”

He looked at her for a long moment. “I-it would be warmer,” he said, taking one tentative step towards her.

She smiled again, and held her hand out to him. He took it and sat close to her, the blankets around their shoulders.

“Look,” she said, pointing upwards. “A shooting star.”

He followed her gaze and smiled for the first time in a long while. She squeezed his hand, and together they gazed up into a clear sky that no longer seemed quite so empty.

© Kari Fay

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