Her parents brought her to the club to 'socialize', but they're the ones doing all the socializing. And now they've met some business friends of her dad's, and there's some secrecy clause about an upcoming deal, or something? So her mother's at the bar getting a drink with the guys' wives, but Emma's only twenty. So here she is, wandering around on the golf course, enjoying the sunset and trying to kill time until she can go back inside. And really, honestly missing school, where she doesn't have to go through this nonsense.
Finally she decides she's had enough of being outside- however much her mother protests that really, Connecticut is lovely in the fall, it's also chilly- and she starts to make her way back to the clubhouse. She's walking up the golf cart trail through the trees to get across the last hole when suddenly she realizes-
-the clubhouse isn't there any more. There's just more forest.
...what just happened?
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.
"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."
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.)
"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.
It's strange enough that she looks up.
"You-" sniffle, "-that-" sniffle, "-not an order?" she manages to get out.
"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."
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?"
"I'm a nice fairy."
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.
"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?"
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.
("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."
Also not enforced.
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.
"Help yourself to water. Are you hungry?"
"...a little?" she finally decides. "But, um, at least a day before it's a problem, I think?"
"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?"
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?"
"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.
"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.
"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."
That... sounds ominous, actually. "Um. A while...?" Emma dares, just barely, to ask.
"Unless you have some strenuous objection I'm going to make you a gate and put you back where you belong."
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-
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."