Trigger warning: Deals with the aftermath of a miscarriage. Some readers may find this drabble very painful to read.
No one who was not a faerie would understand what it was like to be Summoned.
At the first utterance of your Name, you'd hear it, like someone was standing across a crowded room and calling to get your attention.
At the second utterance, you felt it, a tug in your heart, a growing pressure in your chest that made it hard to breathe.
At the third utterance, you were gone, irresistibly pulled towards the one who had called you, your ears full of the sound of their voice. You knew their mood when they Called, whether they were angry or scared or simply needed advice.
When the dazzle of light faded from Puck's vision as she materialized, she knew she was in for a hard time.
She stood in a richly-appointed set of chambers that fed on to one another, their design and furnishings speaking of a mesh of styles. The walls were grey stone paneled with wood of a rich, warm golden shade, and the whole core architecture of the place spoke of it being in one of the great stone castles of the northern kingdoms. The furnishings, though, were far different. Wooden arches had been set into the corners where walls met ceiling, softening the hard angles, the beams intricately carved and looking nearly like lace. Tapestries were interspersed with lengths of fabric woven in rich colors with intricate patterns of some flowing script and geometric designs. The tall angular furniture one normally expected in these northern kingdoms had been replaced with low stools and couches, again covered in richly-covered fabric, matching the low tables and enormous floor cushions. A bowl of dried fruits and nuts lay on one table, while another held a tiny braisier, where bits of sandlewood mingled with incense sent a fragrant smoke wafting into the air.
Puck sniffed curiously. There was more than just the scent of sandlewood and incense here. She smelled people, laced with the acrid bite of fear and anxiety, the salt scent of tears, and a heavy, coppery odor that all living creatures knew well.
She followed the scent to the other room, a large bedchamber. This too had a mix of styles- the large bed was low to the ground, built upon a dais, piled high with blankets and more of those big pillows. It was curtained in the northern style, but the wooden beams were again carved with those eastern designs. A splash of red drew the eye towards the head of the bed, where a tumble of bright red curls lay over a pillow, their owner huddled beneath those blankets.
Puck flitted forward, going to the side of the owner of those curls, a young woman with a long oval face and sharp features, her expression drawn into one of unimaginable grief. The girl's dark eyes were hollow as they slowly flicked towards the little fae who drifted into view.
"Oh, Rose," she said softly, reaching out to touch the pale cheek. "Dearest, what has happened?"
"My baby." The voice of Rose Red, Queen of Archfleur, was dull, almost lifeless.
There was only one reason Puck could think of that would explain Rose's condition and the deep grief she was in, and that knowledge made the little hobgoblin's heart break. "Oh my sweet
I am so sorry." Her fingers brushed Rose's cheek, then she reached up to stroke her red curls. Rose had been expecting her first child, the infant who would one day be her heir and the heir of her husband-consort, the Hadiqan wizard Kiran Vinayak.
Had been. No longer, by the lingering smell of blood in the air.
Puck settled herself next to Rose on the bed, and that seemed all the encouragement the young Queen required. She flung her arms around the faerie and wept into her shoulder, her shoulders trembling with the force of her sobs. Tiny though she was, Puck tucked her under her chin and hugged her close, rocking a little back and forth as she voiced her most soothing purr while Rose cried out at least some of her grief.
It seemed like hours passed while they sat there, Rose clinging to Puck as if she were a lifeline in her ocean of pain.
"Is there something wrong with me?" she asked, her voice still thick and hoarse with tears. "Did I do something to deserve this? To be gored by that wild boar? To be too weak to carry my child?"
Puck didn't shush her. Others might try to silence the young Queen's words and just reassure her, but Puck heard the lingering whisper of doubt in them, doubt in herself and doubt in the forces that were supposed to make things right in the world. No doubt those fears had been preying on her thoughts ever since the initial fear that had to have come when the miscarriage began had subsided enough to let her start thinking. She needed to voice those fears, all of them.
She petted Rose's hair. "No, dear one," she said softly, her green eyes filled with an ancient sadness. Puck had never lost a child of her own, but all fae valued the young, no matter what the species. To lose one that had never even been born
surely there was no greater tragedy. "You were given a hard path to walk, and I am so sorry for it, for your pain and loss."
"Can't you do something?" Rose looked up at her with a wild light in her eyes. "I know you cannot bring back my son, but
can't you fix me? Make me whole?"
The desperate plea made Puck's own throat tighten, and she hung her head, her hair falling around her face and pointed ears. "I cannot," she said. "My magic is not that of the healer."
Rose sat up sharply. "Then what good are you?" she demanded, again on the edge of tears. "What good is magic? Why should I always be surrounded by it, but never healed?" Her voice shook with renewed grief, and she pushed Puck's hands away when she reached to pull her into another embrace.
"Magic brings hope," Puck said softly. "It is hope."
"Then what hope have you for me?"
She reached out again and this time, Rose didn't fight her when Puck pulled her close. "Perhaps my magic may not be able to make you whole, dear Rose, but that does not mean you should lose all hope." She placed a gentle kiss on the Queen's temple, and the fight went out of her, making her go limp against the faerie's side once more. "There is always hope, once the worst is past. Weep now, spend your tears, my sweet. When they are gone, I will help you heal your soul."