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Stardew Vault

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Hermione drank the hot, bitter, caffeinated beverage and looked at the faded photo for the thousandth time. It pictured a young girl of four years, curly-haired and bright-eyed, riding atop an older man's shoulders. Next to them stood her obviously proud parents.

Hermione knew the girl in the photo was herself, and the older gentleman to be her grandfather. She remembered crying when he died, and that he who had willed his place in the vault to her. Her parents would make it into a game whenever they visited the Vault-Tec facilities for Hermione's sleepovers. "Visiting Stardew Farm", they would call it, after the whimsical name her grandfather had given to the hydroponics system he had designed and installed there.

It was only after Hermione had grown much older that she realised in reflection that her "sleepovers" must have been when her parents felt the threat of nuclear war to be particularly high, but they never seemed to let that worry spread to Hermione. The few memories she had was them always being in good cheer.

Hermione never had a chance to say goodbye to her parents. They had dropped her off one day, she had changed into her jumpsuit, and she ran off to tinker with a robot or beg an engineer to let her use a Pip-Boy. But that day the door to the vault rolled shut, and The Great War had reduced the outside to an irradiated wasteland.

She sighed, and tucked the photograph back into the lockbox where she kept her most valuable possessions. She reached for the schematics for the new Farm she was helping build, but her mind kept wandering elsewhere. She had so many questions about her family, about why grandpa had a place in the vault but not her parents, but she resigned herself to not ever having answers. The questions she asked Overseer Lewis didn't seem to ever get very far; either he didn't know much about her family, or he didn't care to share what he knew.

She drained the remainder of her beverage and grimaced. The supplies of coffee, tea, nuka-cola, and everything else were long gone. What beverages did exist were made from reclaimed nutrients and the few molecules the synthesizers could still produce. Somehow her grandfather's whimsical naming scheme had stuck—a homage to his hydroponics using recycled everything—and anything produced by the vault from scratch was given the prefix "Stardew". "Stardew Coffee" was truly awful.

Hermione was softly stirred from her thoughts by a warm hand caressing her shoulder.

"Are you okay, my love?" asked Maru, Hermione's wife and one of the few people she felt she could really talk to about Farming.

"I guess so," said Hermione. "It was twenty years today since grandpa died, and..." she trailed off.

Maru didn't need the sentence finished, and she wrapped her arms around Hermione from behind. "I know how hard it can be for you sometimes. The rest of us all have families here."

"I have a family here," said Hermione. "I've got you."