The cabin was a little small, if Newt was being honest. The reviews had called it “cozy,” but spending ten years trapped deep inside your own mind can really warp your spatial perspective, and to Newt, the place just seemed cramped.
They were taking a sabbatical, just him and Hermann, at Newt’s therapist’s urging. A ‘break from society,’ she called it. Or, Newt had thought bitterly, society’s break from him . What a clever way to separate him from people who he could hurt if the Precursors decided to make an encore appearance.
Well, except for Hermann. But looking at how he took the last ten years of their separation, it seemed only right that they spend at least the next ten together. They hadn’t really had time to talk about that much in depth. But now, they had nothing but time.
So now here they were: just two assholes, a cabin in the Scandanavian wilderness, and enough prescription medication to kill a horse.
Two assholes, and absolutely nobody else.
Which is why it comes as such a surprise when someone knocks at their door.
Hermann raises one eyebrow at Newt over his spoonful of porridge at breakfast, which he eats because he’s reached new levels of ‘aging grandpa.’
Newt pushes his half-eaten plate of scrambled eggs away as he stands to get the door. He wasn’t going to eat much more anyways.
He swings open the heavy wood door to reveal a . . . creature.
It’s a white hippo-like or maybe closer to a manatee-like thing and it’s standing on two legs and holding a pie and Newt is having a hard time right now.
“Hi!” says the thing and holy fucking shit it can talk, of course it can talk, why wouldn’t it be able to talk. “I’m Moomin!”
Newt shuts the door.
Just when adult life couldn’t get any goddamn weirder.
He takes a deep breath in and a deep breath out.
He opens the door again.
The thing is still there. “Oh - uh, hello again,” it says with it’s mouth that speaks English .
Newt is nodding a little frantically at this point, “Hello!” he says with an edge, “Would you mind holding on for just one --- Hermann!!” Newt’s voice cracks a little but he doesn’t look away from whatever holy or unholy apparition is in front of him.
The Moomin-thing’s eyes go wide, “Um. I’m not too sure what a Hermann is but, well, I suppose so?”
“Fantastic.” Newt is still nodding, “Thanks. Thank you.”
He shuts the door on the Moomin-man again right as Hermann appears at his side from the kitchen.
Hermann puts a gentle hand on the small of Newt’s back, “What’s the matter? Who was that?”
Newt leans into his touch gratefully. “I’m gonna be honest with you, dude. I think I’m hallucinating.”
“What makes you say that?”
Newt swings the front door open again.
“Because of this.”
The white bipedal hippo waves shyly, “Oh, hi again.”
Newt takes another careful look at the creature in front of him, and then back to Hermann, who was looking on with his mouth agape.
“Uhhh,” says Hermann intelligently, his grip on Newt’s back tightening significantly. Newt lifts one hand to Hermann’s chin and closes his jaw with a click.
The creature barrels on, seemingly unconcerned with Hermann’s staring. “My name is Moomin! My mamma sent me over with a pie to welcome you to Moominvalley! May I come in please?”
Newt and Hermann briefly make eye contact and Newt hopes he catches the ‘okay you can see it too, we’re good, I’m cool’ he sent Hermann’s way.
What the hell , he thinks. When life gives you lemons, invite a biological abomination into your rented cabin.
“Yeah dude, sure. Come on in. Why not?” Newt moves to usher the ‘Moomin’ inside, “What kind of pie is that? Hermann, could you grab my buspirone, please?”
Hermann is still ogling their guest rather rudely, making strangled noises and blinking like an owl.
“It’s a ronaberry pie! What’s a buspirone?” the Moomin-boy shuffles inside.
Newt waves a hand dismissively, “Oh it’s uh. . . candy. Very important candy. For my anxiety. Don’t worry about it, bud.” Newt gives Hermann a good nudge to the side before he joins them back in reality.
“Right. The buspirone.” Hermann shook his head and wandered back into the kitchen, “Just a moment.”
Newt looks back at the Moomin expectantly, “After you, I guess.”
Moomin nods and follows Hermann into the kitchen, pie still in hand, “Where would you like me to put the pie?”
“On the counter is fine, thanks.” Newt sits down because holy shit does he need to sit down.
Moomin sets the pie on the counter tenderly, “Do you two need any help unpacking?”
Hermann chose that moment to return to the kitchen table with Newt’s pills and a glass of water, “Oh, I don’t think that will be necessary. But, uh, thank you for the offer. Newton, here is your. . . uh, ‘candy’.”
“Thanks, babe.” Newt swallows the pills, “And thank you, uh, Moomin , for the pie and the warm welcome.”
The troll -- is that rude? What’s the polite descriptor here? -- shakes his head and chuckles, “Oh, don’t thank me - my Mamma was the one who made the pie!”
Newt nods absently, as he was still having trouble wrapping his head around this whole situation, “Right. Well, please send her our gratitude! It’s - It’s great to be here. Isn’t it, sweetheart?” he nudges Hermann, who had been staring again.
Hermann startles, “Oh! Yes, yes, I do believe we will enjoy our stay here in. . . Moominvalley. Many thanks to you and your - uh - Mamma.”
“I’ll pass the message on to her,” Moomin smiles. “Well, I’ll be off now. Good luck settling in, you two! Oh -” he dropped his little smile suddenly, “I’m so sorry, I never asked your names!”
Newt lets out a laugh, short and shrill, running a hand through his hair, “Right! How could we forget! I’m Newt, and this is my. . . uh, Hermann.”
Hermann looks at him for a moment, exasperated, before turning back to the troll in front of them, utterly resigned, “I’m his Hermann.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you both. You’re welcome over at Moominhouse anytime!” Moomin says, waddling over to the front door, “I’ll let myself out.”
“Alright, buddy!” Newt’s voice is high and strained now with anticipation, “Great to meet you!”
Moomin gives them both one more polite wave before he ducks his head back out into the wilderness and shuts the door.
No sooner do they hear the lock click shut than Newt feels a vice grip latch itself onto his arm, Hermann hissing into his ear, “ Newton what the fuck was that .”
“ Dude ,” he turned, also whispering, “I have absolutely no idea.”
“ You -” Hermann was steadily turning purple, “Are you telling me you let that - that thing into our house without even KNOWING WHAT IT WAS!?”
Newt threw his hands up, “How the fuck would I know what that was?! It was fucking bipedal , it knew English , does that sound like something I would have studied at MIT?”
“Did it - Did it say it had a house ?”
“It said it had a mom , at least. A mom who makes pies.” Newt looks at the pie quizzically, “We’re definitely thinking mammal, right?”
“I don’t know, Newton,” Hermann said, deflating underneath the hand covering his face, “You have the biology doctorate, why don’t you tell me?”
Newt let out a heavy sigh and settled back into the uncomfortable kitchen chair, “Do we call my shrink? Am I gonna have to go back on Geodon?”
“It wasn’t a hallucination , dear, I saw it too.”
Newt raps his knuckles on the kitchen table, “Maybe it’s a side effect from spending too much time with me,” he ventures warily. It was a dumb hypothesis, he knew, but he said it anyway.
Hermann lifts his head from his hand and gives Newt a careful look before taking one of Newt’s hands in both of his. “Somehow, I sincerely doubt that. In any case, I doubt either you or I would be creative enough to summon something like - like that , even in our wildest dreams.”
Newt shrugs like the action is exhausting, “His name was Moomin.”
“Yes and what, precisely, is a Moomin?”
“I got no fucking clue.” Newt takes another steadying breath before he laughs shakily, “You think we’d be used to weird alien creatures by now. After everything that’s happened.”
Hermann shakes his head, but one corner of his mouth was beginning to curl up, “Somehow, I find this experience markedly different from our experiences with the Kaiju.”
Newt laughs again, “Yeah, like the fact that I could probably take this Moomin guy in a fight.”
Hermann giggles , and holy shit is that cute, “Still, I don’t think I’d recommend drifting with him.”
“He couldn’t be worse than the Precursors.”
Hermann’s face falls and so does Newt’s. Shit, he totally did it again.
This always fucking happens. They can’t ever get comfortable with each other without something painful resurfacing, and it’s always Newt, it’s always Newt fucking up whatever good shit he has left in his life because he can’t leave well enough alone.
Hermann tightened his grip on Newt’s hand ever so slightly and something inside of Newt cracked, “Newton -” he started so gently before Newt interrupted:
“It’s cool, Herms. I’m fine. I promise.” Newt quickly removes his hand from Hermann’s, “I’m gonna go lay down for a little while, actually. We’ve had a jam-packed morning.”
He could feel Hermann’s gaze on him and it was making him flush. Hermann looked for a moment like he was going to say something important, but then he relented. “I understand, dear. But. . . whenever you’re ready to talk about -”
Newt turns on his heel, “Night, Hermann,” he calls even though it’s barely mid-morning.
“Night,” Hermann says so quietly he’s barely audible.
“Look at all the TikTok dances I can do!” screams Little My, running through Moominhouse with a stick outstretched, hitting every chair and table and cabinet she can as she runs by.
Hermann blows on a spoonful of stew with all the airs of someone who was in the company of royalty, “If I may ask, what precisely is a Tick-Tock?”
Newt snorts and covers it up with a cough.
Moominmamma ladles a generous helping of stew into another bowl, “Little My, if you could please have a seat at the dinner table? And put your stick away, we have guests.”
Little My grumbles but clambers up the chair next to Hermann, throwing the stick down hard on the floor, “TikTok is an app I have on my phone,” she explains to Hermann with the confidence and self-possession of a weary old traveler, “You record yourself doing dances to music and stuff. There’s lip-syncing involved and stuff, it takes a lot of practice.” She produces a smart phone from the folds of her dress and proceeds to guide Hermann through her profile, as he looks on with morbid curiosity, “See - there’s me doing Hey Julie, and this is the dance I made up to the finale scene from The O.C. which took me a really long time to perfect, and here’s -”
“You guys have wifi out here?” Newt can’t help but ask, since he and Hermann had to bring their own hotspot device and it just wasn’t working as well as the salesman had promised. He’d been reduced to audio-only calls with his therapist, like a caveman.
Every Moomin in the house turns to look at him quizzically, “My apologies, I don’t believe we do,” speaks Moominmamma softly, “I can’t say that I know what ‘wifi’ is, in fact.”
Newt turns to Little My, but she looks just as lost as he feels, “Yeah, I don’t know what that is.”
“How. . . How did you download that app, then?”
Little My regards her device with suspicion, “I dunno! It just kinda showed up.”
Right. The whole ‘magic’ thing. Newt had forgotten.
It was weird how not weird this whole thing was, really. He and Hermann just showing up at their neighbor’s house with a basket of ‘thank you’ cookies and politely accepting an invitation to dinner. It could have been downright normal if their neighbors weren’t so distinctly not-human.
But even the shock of that had faded with the evening, as the Moomins welcomed them in and it became obvious that this was as sweet and domestic a household as could be.
They might not be humans, but they were people , just like Hermann and himself.
Newt had even asked Hermann if it was possible that Swedish people just looked Like That, to which Hermann responded with an elbow to his ribs and a stifled laugh.
“So, Newt,” Moominpappa begins, gesturing between him and Hermann, “How did the two of you meet?”
Newt grins, “Oh you know, the classic story. Two young geniuses at the top of their fields, constantly at each other’s throats, end up saving the world through the power of friendship and love, yadda yadda, spend ten years apart and then reconnect under difficult circumstances.”
Hermann rolls his eyes. “We worked together.”
“Ah,” Moominpappa nods, “Yes, that makes sense.”
With a tilted head, Moomin sets down his spoon, “Um, I don’t mean to pry, but. . . what was the difficult circumstance? If you don’t mind my asking.”
Hermann and Newt look at each other quickly. This would be the first time they explained the Incident to anyone who wasn’t a medical professional. Hermann raises a brow at him in an implied question and Newt shakes his head minutely. He could barely stand to talk to Hermann about this, there was no way he was gonna open up to these little Swedish forest creatures.
“Just another Kaiju threat,” Hermann says, only half-lying as he curls an arm around Newt protectively, “But we neutralized it. All is well.”
Newt wants to laugh bitterly. He wonders if he would still have a seat at this table if they knew whose fault that ‘threat’ was. If these sweet little cryptids knew just how much damage Newt did just by being too weak to fight the Precursors. The world almost ended all over again, and it would have been all his fault.
‘All is well’ Hermann had said, so why can’t Newt believe that?
The rest of the dinner went by with Newt tucked under Hermann’s arm, feeling guilty and nauseous and exposed all over again. It was like he was a live wire stripped of his protective covering, buzzing with electricity, ready to zap anyone who came close.
He’d escaped justice, he knew. His crimes were too great for him to pay with anything less than his life.
Now he was in some fairy-tale version of real life with everything he wanted finally within his grasp, and it didn’t feel real, it wasn’t right, he didn’t deserve this. The other shoe was going to drop, and this time it would destroy him.
When they got back that night, Newt went straight to bed. He curled up in a fetal position as far away from Hermann’s side as he could get.
It wasn’t fair to Hermann, who’d given him so much of everything he’d asked for - space, love, understanding, - he knew that. But thinking about that just made him that much more heavy with guilt. Newt couldn’t do anything without hurting the people he loved. He was such a fuck up.
He just wished he could stop causing problems. Release the burdens of the world around him. Disappear.
Maybe when karmic justice finally comes for him, it’ll be a relief.
Newt wakes to the sound of Hermann snoring, open-mouthed and louder than jackhammers. It was one of Newt’s favorite Hermann Things, that even though he carried himself so proper and professional in front of other people, he fully unravelled in his sleep, indulging every weekday lie-in he could manage.
Usually, Newt spent his first waking minute every morning to take in this picture-perfect Hermann, sprawled out and drooling all over his pillow.
But this morning, Newt was not thinking about Hermann. No, he was busy staring at the ceiling, wondering where his nose went.
It’s funny, you never think of your nose as something actively visible to your eyes - but it is. You’re really never not looking at your nose, but your brain is constantly filtering it out of view so you don’t go absolutely batshit insane trying to look around your nose every moment of every day.
But its absence is palpable - instantly Newt is hyper aware that something is wrong here.
He lifts a hand to touch the place where his nose should be, but the place where his hand should be - where his body is telling him it is - is empty of any limbs, tattooed or otherwise.
Is he a ghost now? Is this what being a ghost is? Waking up one day without a body to call your own?
Was he intangible, too? Newt quickly brings his hand down on where his face would be.
Ow - Fuck!
Okay, maybe not intangible.
He looks down at the rest of his body, only to see a Newt-shaped indent in the mattress beneath him.
Well, shit, he thinks. That’s not right .
Newt moves his remarkably invisible arm to shake Hermann awake, and he only misjudges the distance between them once - twice - before landing right on Hermann’s hip.
Hermann , he thinks. Wake up.
His mouth moves as if he’s saying the words, but something’s not there, it’s not right, there’s a variable missing from the equation. Something in his chest spasms and he can’t fucking speak.
Newt grabs hold of Hermann’s thigh and shakes him, hard.
Hermann startles awake and looks around frantically before he settles on the distinctly person-sized lump under the covers beside him.
He does a quick scan of the familiar valleys and hills of Newt’s body underneath the covers and notes the lack of head with a surgical calmness. “Ah,” he sniffs, “Newton, I presume?”
“And we don’t want to overstay our welcome, but you’re the only people we know around here and -” Hermann pats the air next to him in some kind of amateur miming routine, “- we’re, we’re having a spot of trouble.”
“Oh - of course, you poor dears,” Moominmamma opens the door as wide as it goes and ushers them in, “Don’t worry, this isn’t my first rodeo. Here, I’ll get you boys some tea.”
Once Newt has both his hands wrapped around the hot mug in front of him, he starts to calm down enough to listen to the conversation.
Hermann is still clinging to his arm, as if Newt’s going to slip away entirely if Hermann doesn’t hold on tight, panic mounting in his voice, “We just woke up this morning and he was completely invisible. He can’t speak either. At least, I assume, because he hasn’t said a word all morning!” Hermann breaks off with a shuddering intake of air, “If you’ll forgive my manners, it’s been a trying day.”
Moominmamma nods sympathetically, “You two must be terribly frightened. I’m so sorry this has happened to you.”
“Thank you,” Hermann looks down at where his hand is still holding onto Newton, and then looks up to where he thinks Newt’s eyes might be.
Newt has to turn away, unable to bear the sensation of Hermann looking right through him.
“We know a little girl who went through a similar transformation a few years back,” Moominmamma says, “She’s all visible now, if that comforts you any. In fact, she stayed with us while she recovered. All it took was one of my Granny’s Infallible Household Remedies and a whole lot of love.”
“Oh?” Hermann says, and Newt can hear his voice crack.
Moominmamma puts a hand to her face in consideration before moving to the door, “Why don’t you two sit tight, finish up those teas while they’re warm, and I’ll go grab my recipe book.”
“Thank you,” Hermann says softly as she walks away and out of the room.
Once more, they were alone.
Newt isn’t looking up from the feather he can see underneath his thigh on the couch. If he doesn’t look at Hermann, maybe he’ll stop feeling so -
“I love you,” says Hermann, and Newt stills. It’s not the first time he’s said it, not by a longshot, but it’s the first time the words shake Newt to his core. “I have never known anyone like you, Newton. You are recklessly brave. You are kind and smart and stronger than anything.”
What is this, Newt thinks, my eulogy?
“And I know what you’re thinking-, no, this is not my attempt at a goodbye. Don’t jump to extremes.”
“Quite the opposite, actually. This is my promise to you, darling.” Hermann drops his hold on Newt’s arm to lace their fingers together, “Whatever ends up happening, whatever metaphysical properties you do or do not possess, I will be right by your side every step of the way.” Here Hermann’s mouth goes wobbly and the tips of his ears begin to flush, “I’ve already wasted too much of my life without you in it. But we’ve got each other now. You aren’t getting away from me this time, Doctor Geiszler.”
Newt’s body remembers how to blow a laugh out his nose. You sound like a school principal , he thinks.
Hermann smiles and traces a tentative hand up Newt’s chest to cradle the side of his face, “I love you.”
And suddenly Newt feels like he’s in the drift with Hermann again, like his soul just got sucked out through a little tube, shaken like a martini, and then spilled over into something entirely new. The tightening in his chest relented as he pressed his face into Hermann’s shoulder and finally - finally spoke:
“I love you too.”
They spend the night at Moominmamma’s polite insistence, and Newt begins the next day with a steaming hot bowl of Granny’s Secret Recipe.
“Now, we found that while its a good start to the process, the soup will not do the work for you. All it’ll do is help you make yourself visible again.” Moominmamma smiles as she watches the bowl float up and tip forward as Newt pours some into his mouth, “You have to want it first. And give it time.”
Newt gulps what he can before he needs to breathe again, wiping the side of his mouth, “Thank you,” he says, though his voice is still hoarse. “How is she?”
Moominmamma tilts her head, “How is who, dear?”
“The girl -” his voice was getting raspy again, “You mentioned her yesterday.”
“Oh, you mean Ninny! Yes, she’s getting along just fine now. Such a sweet girl, that Ninny. She reminded me a lot of Little My, actually.” Moominmamma tilted her head up to the top of the stairs where Little My is preparing to barrel roll down to ground level with a bucket for a helmet.
Newton nods, as though she can see him. “Can I ask - Do you know how or why she went invisible?”
Moominmamma’s face goes even paler, “Oh, of course. She - well, - she lived with her aunt, you see, who was a terribly cold and sarcastic woman. She was so mean to Ninny and Ninny was so frightened of her aunt that one day, she woke up completely invisible. Her aunt put a bell around her neck before releasing her into a friend’s care, who brought her here.”
Newt’s hand goes to his neck reflexively, suddenly grateful Hermann didn’t collar him like a wandering cat. “That’s terrible,” he managed to say, “But that doesn’t sound like what I’m going through.”
“I thought that might be the case,” she hums. “You know, Newt, if you want to talk about what it is, exactly, that you’re going through, I’m always happy to listen.”
“Thank you,” Newt says, “I’ll do that,” he says, and he means it. He really means it.
She smiles back at him, “And congratulations on your socks.”
His socks? His socks!
“My socks!” Newt looks down at his feet to see his actual real-life socks exactly where he thought they’d be, underneath his calves , his beautiful visible calves. Never again would he complain about the size or shape of any part of his body. He was perfect, goddamn it. Especially when he could be perceived.
Everything knees-up is still missing, but this is progress Newt could work with.
He fights the urge to kiss his own legs before sweeping Moominmamma into what must have been a very startling hug for her, “Thank you!” he says, squeezing tight, “Thank you for everything. And I’ll come talk to you, I promise. When I’m ready.”
She gives him a tat-tat on the back and Newt can hear the smile in her voice when she says, “Whenever you’re ready.”
As it turns out, Newt is ready just a few days later, after lunch has been shared and dishes cleared from the table. He’s watching Hermann out in the yard, who is playing the most earnest game of hide-and-go seek Newt’s ever seen.
Newt just opens his mouth and the words fall out, “I gave a hostile alien race full access to the inside of my mind and I almost caused the end of the world. On purpose.”
Moominmamma pauses and looks up from her knitting, “Is that so?”
“Yeah, it is. After the war was over I sold out to the private sector, and I let it take over my life, the Precursors -” he cuts himself off with a deep breath, and suddenly it’s so easy to talk again, “These evil aliens infested my mind like it was nothing, and I tried, oh my God I tried to fight them, I swear I did. But I was weak. And I was so--- so tired .”
Putting her knitting down, Moominmamma crosses the kitchen to sit beside Newt and put a comforting hand on his knee, “Go on, dearie.”
Newt takes another shuddering breath as the words keep coming, “I gave up. Years ago, completely threw in the towel. I didn’t want to be me anymore, so why not let somebody else? I didn’t care what they were doing, that they were using me for world domination. I - I started rooting for them at some point, like I was on their side.” He can feel tears spill down his cheeks and fuck when did he start crying? “When I saw Hermann again, when everything got real, I tried. . . God, I don’t even know what I tried.”
Moominmamma keeps rubbing circles into his back patiently.
“And he saved me, you know,” Newt says through a teary sniffle, “He pulled me back out into the world, even though I tried to kill him, even though I left him alone for so many years. Hermann’s done everything for me - he gave up his job, his life, everything , just to be with me again, and - and I didn’t do anything. I don’t deserve any of it. I don’t deserve him.”
Newt pitches forward into Moominmamma’s shoulder as she wraps her tiny arms around him.
“You’ve fought so valiantly, my little soldier,” she tuts into the crown of his head, “And I am so very proud of you.”
Newt hiccups and shakes his head.
“You said it yourself, Newt. You tried, you fought , you worked for years to solve a problem no one’s ever faced before, and you’re still here, out the other side.”
“But it won’t last, I know it won’t,” he says into the wet spot he’s made on her dress, “I don’t deserve it.”
“It wasn’t your fault, dear,” she says and he feels like he’s drowning. “You do know that, don’t you?”
Newt trembles, “I don’t know. Maybe.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” she says again, and this time Newt repeats her words:
“It wasn’t. . . It wasn’t my fault,” Newt’s voice cracks as he begins sobbing in earnest. “It wasn’t my fault!”
Moominmamma pets his hair and coos gently, “Good job. Let it all out, darling. Well done.” After a moment, she takes his face in both of her soft little hands and looks at him as though he’s really there, “I think you’ve punished yourself long enough, don’t you? It’s time to put down your weapons, Newt - the fight is over, and you’re safe now. You can breathe.”
Newt closes his eyes. Finally, he breathes.
Not a moment too soon, Hermann bursts through the kitchen door at lightning speed, “Newton! You’re visible!”
Newt opens his eyes again. Sure enough, his nose is present and within his permanent field of vision once more. Fuck, he missed that.
He takes a moment to gather Moominmamma into another hug and thank her one more time before bounding into Hermann’s arms, not bothering to wipe away the tears still pouring down his cheeks.
They hold each other giddily, faces half a foot apart, just taking in the sight of one another with grins threatening to split both their faces in half.
“I could see you from the window,” Hermann says first, eyes gleaming and still breathless, “I’ve missed looking at you,”
Newt laughs, “I’ve missed you looking at me too.”
Hermann chuckles before his face shifts abruptly into something like bemused shock, “Um, Newton? I think you might have a few new body parts to account for.”
Behind him, Moominmamma has begun giggling up a storm. He cranes his head to sneak a peek at whatever’s causing such a reaction, and it’s wings .
Real wings attached to his real body , pterodactyl-style, and he could’ve sworn they weren’t there before.
“Oh, I’m sorry, boys,” Moominmamma gasps between giggles, “It’s just - very typical of Moominvalley, that’s all. Folks say this place reveals your true nature.”
“My true nature, huh?” Newt grins and runs a finger down one of the segments protruding from his mid-back, “Hey, do these look like -”
“The wings of one Kaiju called Otachi?” Hermann supplied with a smirk, “Yes. Unfortunately, they do.”
Newt turned back around, settling into Hermann’s arms for good this time, “Awesome.”