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2 little bits from the prologue of the second book in Don't Lose Hope! Ka'harja is 11 here. Just a bab!

I cut out the middle bit because I just want to show off these two scenes, specifically, of Distro being a better mother than Kay'oten.

cw: child abuse mention


‘Not that way,’ Distro let out a laugh. ‘It’s not time for bed yet.’

‘Ith not?’ groaned Ka’harja. He wasn’t sure what else there was to do; gathering firewood had been his last chore for the day.

‘Not if you want to learn how to make potions, it’s not,’ Distro winked at the boy.

‘I’m too tired to read,’ Ka’harja told her. ‘I’ll do twi-th ath much reading tomorrow. I promith.’

‘I was thinking about a more hands-on exercise.’

Ka’harja’s heart skipped a beat. ‘You’re going to let me make a po-thon?’

‘Unless you’d rather go to bed—’

‘—NO!’ Ka’harja didn’t feel tired anymore. ‘I WANT TO MAKE A PO-THON! What po-thon am I going to make? Invi-thability? Levita-thon? Explo-tionth?’

‘A herbal tea,’ Distro told him. ‘Cottonflower.’

Ka’harja’s heart sank. ‘That’th not a po-thon.’

‘Cottonflower tea is the most important potion you will ever learn to make,’ Distro frowned. ‘And it’s the one potion I expect you to never charge people for. Do you understand?’

Ka’harja gave a huff; and then, when he caught Distro’s frown, he nodded.

‘Do you remember what cottonflower tea is?’ she asked.

‘It’th the one for nurlakth,’ said Ka’harja. ‘When they get the thelf-feeding thickneth.’

‘Good lad,’ Distro raised a hand, hesitating when the child flinched. ‘Don’t be scared. High-five.’

Ka’harja swallowed, and slowly raised his own hand— And let out a loud giggle as Distro smacked their palms together.

‘That’s my boy!’ she cheered, ruffling his hair and giving his ears a playful tug. ‘Now, into the pantry with you!’

Ka’harja rushed to the kitchen, opening the pantry door wide and slipping inside.

He almost gasped; he’d never been allowed in the pantry before, and he couldn’t believe his eyes as they trailed along the shelf-covered walls. It was like a rainbow of plants and poultices.

~~~

‘What did I just say about talking back?’ Distro asked. ‘Did I say to do it? I think not.’

‘I know you don’t real-ly mind,’ Ka’harja grinned. ‘If you did, you’d hit me, juth-d like my real kekik would.’

‘No, I wouldn’t!’ Distro snapped. ‘Don’t talk that crock to me! And don’t you dare compare me to a Har’py.... And what’s this talk about “real” kekiks? As long as you live with me I’m your mother. Plain and simple.’

‘Not by blood,’ mumbled Ka’harja as he began to tear the leaves into small pieces. ‘You’re juth-d looking ath-ter me.’

‘Exactly! That means I’m your mother,’ Distro yanked the leaves out of Ka’harja’s grip and began to snip them into neat squares with scissors. ‘I don’t know what you think mothers are supposed to do, but I’m telling you now; a real mother is the one who loves you most. Nobody will ever love you as much as a real mother will.’

‘But my real moth-der doeth-n’t loth me—’

‘Nonsense! Of course I do,’ said Distro as she scooped the leaves into a ceramic cup. ‘Now, do you remember what to do after cutting the leaves?’

Ka’harja shook his head and Distro let out a heavy sigh.


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