I’m leaning on Serena heavily, my knees are fiery fury at my having walked too much, but I’m eager to pass the present into your hands. Serena had mentioned it was your birthday; in truth you’d have been given the gift regardless, it’s just a nice cover.

“It’s for when you need a bit of Courage.”

The minute the gift box is out of my hands I am afraid; it catches me off balance, as I gracefully slide (though fall is more correct) into the seat offered. I laugh, turn to make a joke to Serena with the expected easygoing smile, for it covers how exposed, how vulnerable I suddenly feel. What is wrong with me?

I don’t understand where this comes from. The design and colours were correct– I had verified the heraldry with the Civil Service personally. Gold snake, on green and white. I’m not exactly a master weaver such as the Dawnish are famed for– but the needlework was some of my best, I had worked for days on it. I don’t think this is nerves about the gift being subpar…

And I had studied so hard! Every book I could find on hearth magic, on the Dawnish and their favours, on symbolism and girding with them, and what they mean– this is, I suppose, my interpretation of your hearth magic, though in some ways (and in one particular way) it is my hearth magic, too, woven and embroidered into a favour. I can’t stop the tension building.

Why am I afraid?

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