Aurelia clutched the tweezers so tightly they had begun to leave pale marks on her fingers. She released them, willing the tension to leave her body–to leave her alone entirely, if possible. This felt more like a human conversation. Aurelia glossed over the thought, refusing to let anything else distract her.

 She placed Viv’s ramekin before her and removed the saucer covering the mouth. At once, the small insects began to clamber around the sides for a way out. Viv’s long beak stabbed inside, grabbing one of the tiny creatures, and took her time forcing it into her small jaws. Aurelia looked away from the birds as Brook answered. The staccato clicks of beak on ceramic kept her grounded.

 “Well, yes,” she admitted, coming to her senses enough to spot-clean her prep area. “But it’s different for humans. Witches, too.” This felt like a time-worn excuse to be used on a stranger, and she resented herself for saying it to someone so dear to her. “I mean…we process emotions differently. That’s nothing against you—it’s simply biology...” She turned the faucet on with her good hand, looking back up at Brook with a tiny smile, “And yes. I’m fine. Don’t worry, please.”