Sep 24, 2018 9:13 AM
into the woods
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Emma puts her down as ordered. She stands very still, eying them both. She's still swinging wildly between hope and terror, but it's (mostly) internalized.

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"Give. Me. Her. Name," says Promise, when River is still delaying.

"You're going to make me walk all the way home?"

"That sounds to me like your problem," says Promise. "I really don't care."

The fairy grumbles, but then approaches Promise and murmurs, "Emma."

And the teeny blue-haired fairy storms away, grumbling.

Promise watches her go.

Then looks up at Emma and says, "I rescind all her orders."
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She should flee, she should run away, she should go home-

But she doesn't have the willpower to do that right now. She just crumples to the ground and starts to sob again.

(She's favoring one side, a bit; River was small, but she kicks hard.)
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Promise sits down on the moss and wraps her arms around her knees and waits.

"When you can walk for about half an hour without having to be ordered to do it, we can go to my house," she says.

This is neither phrased nor enforced as a command.
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This- is the first thing since she arrived here that Emma has heard that wasn't an order.

It's strange enough that she looks up.

"You-" sniffle, "-that-" sniffle, "-not an order?" she manages to get out.
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"Well, if you keep me here for too long I might have to haul you back home just so I can get us fed, but no. That was not an order."

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Given that she's somewhat in the fetal position and still crying, the only thing out of Emma next that is even slightly coherent comes out as "-why?"

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"I'm a nice fairy."

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Emma will give her nicer, at least so far. But "nice" when combined with "fairy" is, in her opinion, a pretty low bar, so she'll hold off on ultimate judgment for a bit. (Not that she has a large sample size here.)

That said, she did allow Emma at least brief freedom. "Thanks," she manages to gulp.

Also, the weird winged people are in fact called fairies. She's learned more about them in the past ten minutes than she has in months living here. She's not sure if that's a good thing, but she'll take it.

After thinking for a minute, she adds, "...um, half an hour. Maybe an hour." She's not in great shape, she spends most of her time cooking and sewing, but a half hour walk shouldn't be too bad, if she doesn't get forced faster, faster, faster.
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"Okay. I'm sure you've figured out by now that you shouldn't give anybody else your name. What do you want me to call you instead?"

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That gives Emma some pause. Her name doesn't really lend itself to nicknames, except when her parents started calling her "Emdy" as a pretense at combining Emma M.D., and that's too close to her real name for comfort.

So- she'll pick something. She feels like she should come up with something clever, but she's too emotionally worn out for that, and it should probably be something she recognizes. Not her mom's name, just in case, but her grandmother's would work? Grandma's been dead for years.

"Ruth?"
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"Okay, Ruth."

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Responding to that will be weird, but it's better than the alternative.

("Better" is not a thing she's had recently. For months, actually. It's a strange feeling.)

She recovers faster than she thought. She'd forgotten what it was like to simply- rest, of your own accord. Not enforced by a careless fairy who just wants you quiet and behaving in a corner. So it's only about twenty minutes later when Emma pulls herself together and says hesitantly, "I'm, um, okay to walk now, I think."
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"Okay." Promise gets up and flutters into this air. "This way, let me know if you need to slow down."

Also not enforced.
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It actually takes her some time, to sort things out in her head enough to follow. A small part of her is still screaming go home there's no order now, but she still doesn't know how, and making the so-far-nicer fairy angry doesn't seem helpful.

So she follows without complaint. It's a little fast for her, but she decides it's not a problem; she doesn't want to bother the fairy into ordering her. It's not that fast.
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And in about half an hour, there is a tree, which opens up and is much closer to being the right size for Emma than River's house was. It is cute and tidy inside.

"Help yourself to water. Are you hungry?"
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She has to think about it. She hasn't been able to feed herself for months, she's gotten to a place where she just- ignores it until she's fed. She's not at 'my orders consider me Hungry Enough to remind River about food', but she has to sort things out past that.

"...a little?" she finally decides. "But, um, at least a day before it's a problem, I think?"
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"Well, I'll give you something now, and you can tell me when you're hungry again. If you eat something I don't literally put in your mouth for you then other claims on you can sneak in - it's not likely, but it could happen." Promise starts rummaging around the kitchen. "Anything you know you do or don't like?"

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Emma was not fed a particularly wide variety of food at any point, and did not form notable opinions on any of it except for the one "helped my voice" berry. "I, um, ate basically anything," she offers. Then, realizing this is maybe not detailed, she tries again. "Um, anything's fine, I guess the soothing berries were good? If that helps?"

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"The sort of off-white ones? I don't have any right now but I can get some next time I'm out." Promise starts cutting up other things until she has some salad sort of thing, and then goes and feeds it to Emma.

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"You don't- not for me," Emma says, feeling worried and off-kilter. She just- whatever else happens, so far this place is much better than River's (she didn't even know the nickname, before). She doesn't want to be more trouble.

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"I know where to get them," Promise shrugs. "You're going to be here for a while, if you like them I may as well."

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That... sounds ominous, actually. "Um. A while...?" Emma dares, just barely, to ask.

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"Unless you have some strenuous objection I'm going to make you a gate and put you back where you belong."

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Emma sits.

She does not intentionally sit. It just feels rather like all of her bones have stopped working.

"I- you-" she manages before she's crying hysterically. And also sort of laughing hysterically. She has no idea what she's doing and realizes she sounds sort of like a crazy person, but she's just been trapped here with no idea what the place is, or what happened to her, or- or- fairies, she didn't even know they were called that really until yesterday, and-

Home.

Maybe. If she's lucky.

But it's closer than she's gotten in a long, long time.






Eventually she pulls herself together and wraps herself around her legs. "Um. Sorry," she says, still sounding rather watery. "Thank you, thank you, I don't- I know you could be lying, but I don't care, I just- home."
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